Gustavus Adolphus College plays host this weekend as the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crowns a tournament champion in men’s tennis. The host Gusties captured their 21st consecutive league title and earned the top seed in this weekend’s tournament by going 9-0 in league play. The winner of this weekend’s tournament receives the MIAC’s automatic bid to the field of 41 teams for the 2009 NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Championships.
Gustavus enters the tournament as the only MIAC team ranked nationally by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The tenth-ranked Gusties are also the third-ranked team in the Central Region, dropping slightly from the ninth spot in the final rankings of the fall. Gustavus finished fifth at the ITA Division III National Men’s Team Indoor Championships this year in a field that contained five of the nation’s top eight NCAA Division III teams. Carleton enters the weekend ranked 13th in the Central Region, down from eighth in the ITA’s final fall rankings.
Gustavus’ John Kauss, winner of last fall’s ITA Small College Championships singles title, is the top ranked men’s singles player in the Central Region and the only ranked player from the MIAC. Only one MIAC doubles team is rated in the top-10 of the Central Region, as Mike Burdakin and John Kauss of Gustavus, runners-up at last fall’s ITA Small College Championships, are also rated first.
Gustavus finished atop the league standings with a perfect record for the 24th consecutive season, capturing the school’s 43rd MIAC title in the process. Carleton finished second with an 8-1 league mark, followed by Bethel (7-2), St. Olaf (6-3), Saint John’s (5-4), and St. Thomas (4-5). St. Olaf was the biggest mover in the league standings from 2007 to 2008, improving two spots from sixth to fourth. The Oles finished 5-11 overall, 4-5 in the MIAC a year ago, but enter the 2009 MIAC Tournament with a 8-5 record overall and a 6-3 mark in the conference. Macalester (3-6), Concordia (2-7), and Saint Mary’s (1-8), and Hamline (0-9) round out the standings.
This year’s tournament will begin at 12 p.m. Friday, May 1 with both first-round matches on the Brown Outdoor Courts. Play continues Saturday, May 2 with semifinal matches scheduled for 9 a.m. and the championship match slated for 2 p.m. on the Brown Outdoor Courts. In the event of rain, play will be moved to Gustavus’ Swanson Tennis Center. All matches contested outdoors will be played to completion. If weather forces the tournament indoors, matches will be played to decision.