The Gustavus Adolphus College men’s tennis team was swept by top-ranked UC-Santa Cruz 5-0 Wednesday in the semifinal round of the NCAA Division III Championships in St. Louis, Mo.
The morning started with the Banana Slugs posting a sweep in doubles. Jared Kamel and Mark Vartabedian topped Ben Tomasek (So., Oakdale, Minn./North St. Paul) and Nick Hansen (So., Duluth, Minn./East) 8-2 at No. 3 and Max Liberty-Point and Bryan Pybas defeated Charlie Paukert (So., Grand Forks, N.D./Central) and Mike Burdakin (So., Bettendorf, Iowa) 8-6 at No. 2, before the duo of Matt Seeberger and Max Ortiz, ranked seventh in Division III, upset second-ranked Jesse Brauer (Sr., Mankato, Minn./West) and Andy Bryan (Jr., Edina, Minn.) 8-4 at No. 1 to take a commanding 3-0 lead heading into singles.
UC-Santa Cruz closed out the match and advanced to the championship match for the 11th time in school history with victories at No. 3 and No. 5 singles. Ortiz downed Paukert 6-1, 6-1 at No. 5 before Pybas ended the match with a 6-0, 6-2 win over John Kauss (So., St. Paul, Minn./Harding) at No. 3.
Wednesday’s match marked just the fourth time in 37 years (all in either the semifinals or championship match at the NCAA Championships) under the guidance of head coach Steve Wilkinson that the Gusties have been shut out by a Division III opponent, and the first where Gustavus was unable to capture an individual victory. In the previous three instances, the Gusties picked up a doubles win but were unable to capture the doubles point.
Gustavus (27-9) will face Middlebury (21-2) Thursday morning at 10 a.m. for third place. The Gusties fell to Middlebury 4-0 in an NCAA semifinal last year before beating Williams (Mass.) 4-3 to capture third place. UC-Santa Cruz will meet third-ranked Emory for the 2007 NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Team Championship Thursday, also at 10 a.m. Emory edged Middlebury 5-4 in the other semifinal and is the defending champion.