The Gustavus men’s tennis team earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship by winning the 2011 MIAC Playoff Title with impressive wins over St. Olaf, 6-0 in the semifinals, and Carleton 7-2 in the championship match on Saturday in St. Peter. The Gusties will find out on Monday who and where they will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, which will take place on May 13-15.
The Gusties, who were the #1 seed in the playoff tournament, received the a bye on the first day and opened play against St. Olaf on Saturday morning. The Oles advanced to the semifinals with a 6-3 win over Concordia on Friday. Gustavus jumped out to a 3-0 lead after doubles and never looked back on its way to a 6-0 win over St. Olaf. The match was stopped due to time constraints after the Gusties had built an insurmountable 6-0 lead. Coach Tommy Valentini’s squad won the first three singles matches in straight sets and led in the other three matches when play was stopped.
In the championship match, Gustavus faced Carleton in the re-match of the 2010 championship, when the Knights defeated the Gusties and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Carleton defeated St. Thomas 6-1 in the semifinals. Gustavus got off to a fast start in the match winning the #2 and #3 doubles matches to take an early 2-0 lead. The #1 doubles match was hotly contested and the Gustavus duo of Patrick Clark and Amrik Donkena rallied from a 7-6 deficit to defeat Peter Dunn and Paul Cooper 9-8 (4). The Gusties clinched the match at 5-0 when Marcel Gyswyt defeated Jon Aranda 6-3, 6-2 at the #5 position and Amrik Donkena defeated Austin Jiang 6-2, 7-6 (6). The final four singles matches were very competitive as all went to the maximum three sets. The two rivals split the four matches with Gustavus getting wins from Patrick Clark at the #2 position and Tyler Johnson at the #4 position, while Carleton picked up wins from Alexander Chin at the #3 position and McCoy Becker at the #6 position.
Gustavus has now claimed four of the five MIAC Playoff Titles since the MIAC instituted a post-season tournament in the 2007 season.