The Gustavus Adolphus College men’s tennis team advanced to the semifinal round of the NCAA Division III Championships with a 5-4 win over Williams (Mass.) Tuesday afternoon in St. Louis, Mo.
Gustavus Adolphus swept sixth-ranked Williams (15-7) in doubles play. Mike Burdakin (So., Bettendorf, Iowa) and Charlie Paukert (So., Grand Forks, N.D./Central) posted an 8-2 win at No.2 and Ben Tomasek (So., Oakdale, Minn./North St. Paul) and Nick Hansen (So., Duluth, Minn./East) won by an 8-4 margin at No. 3, while Jesse Brauer (Sr., Mankato, Minn./West) and Andy Bryan (Jr., Edina, Minn.) had to work hard for a tiebreak victory at No. 1, winning 9-8 (4).
Gustavus Adolphus withstood a furious rally by Williams in singles action, as the Ephs won four of six singles battles. Williams’ Karol Furmaga and Nick Lebedoff sparked the rally with two straight wins. Furmaga topped Paukert 6-3, 6-3 at No. 5, while Lebedoff downed John Kauss (So., St. Paul, Minn./Harding) 6-3, 6-1 at No. 3 singles. At No. 1, Bryan extended GAC’s lead to 4-2 with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Ted Haley, but Rick Devlin brought Williams back to 4-3 with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Danny Suchy (Sr., La Crosse, Wis./Central) at No. 6. The Ephs evened the match at 4-4 when Daniel Greenberg rallied from one set down for a 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-2 win over Brauer at No. 2. In the decisive match, though, it was GAC’s Mike Burdakin who mounted his own comeback win, a 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 decision over Gary Simonette at No. 4.
The fifth-ranked Gusties (27-8) will face top-ranked UC-Santa Cruz at 10 a.m., Wednesday, May 15, at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center. The Banana Slugs (19-5), who won the ITA Division III National Indoor Championships earlier this year in St. Peter, advanced to the national semifinals with a 5-1 win over host Washington University (Mo.). Emory will face Middlebury in the other semifinal. This marks the third straight year (and the seventh time in the last eight) that Gustavus has advanced to the semfinals. The Gusties finished fourth in 2005 and third last year.
Reports courtesy of Washington (Mo.) University Sports Information contributed to this story.