Megan Gaard – April Female Student-Athlete of the Month – Senior, Tennis
Although the Gustavus women’s tennis program’s 20-year reign as MIAC champion came to end last Sunday in the regular season finale against Carleton, the Gusties have nothing to be ashamed about as they put together another impressive season behind strong individual play and are in contention to defend their five-consecutive MIAC Playoff titles. An indisputable leader for the Gustie women has been senior Megan Gaard and for her outstanding play during the final month of the regular season, the Office of Sports Information has named Gaard Female Student-Athlete of the Month for April, presented by Thrivent Financial.
After starting the season 4-9 in singles play, Gaard rebounded during the month of April and went 11-2. The Edina, Minn. native, who is ranked No. 20 in the Central Region singles, enters the MIAC Playoffs on an eight-match win streak. Gaard started April with a three-set victory at Incarnate Word and a 6-0, 6-0 shutout the ensuing day at Southwestern University before dropping two of her next three singles matches. But a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Carleton’s Bridget Doyle – ranked No. 21 in the Central Region – on April 7 sparked the current eight-match win streak.
The senior captain has defeated all eight of her conference opponents during the month in convincing fashion with one exception. Gaard found herself in a heated rematch with Carleton’s Doyle in the regular season finale, but came out victorious after a 10-6 super-breaker victory in the third set. In her other six conference match-ups, Gaard has not dropped more than three games per set.
Adding to a strong singles game is an even better doubles resume. On April 21, Gaard and No. 1 doubles teammate Laurel Krebsbach cruised to an 8-2 victory over St. Thomas’ Mary Allen and Kara Lefsrud. With the victory, Gaard earned her 100th career win in doubles play, joining a club occupied by just two players since the new millennium. Gaard joins the likes of Sierra Krebsbach `10 (105-31) and Samantha Frank `11 (101-40), both of which were her teammates in the late 2000’s. The three-time All-Conference performer is now 102-37 (.734) in doubles over her career.
“She’s had a great impact on our program over the past four years,” Head Coach Jon Carlson mentioned of Gaard’s career. “Since stepping onto campus as a freshman, she was an impact player and will be certainly missed at the end of the season.”
Gaard and Krebsbach posted an 11-3 mark in doubles play during April and are ranked No. 9 in the Central Region. The two teammates have dropped just one of eight MIAC matches throughout the month with the lone loss coming in the regular season finale against Carleton’s Kathryn Schmidt and Erin Gudul, 6-8, who are ranked No. 10 in the Central Region.
Gaard and the rest of the team will look to continue the Gustavus dynasty this weekend at the MIAC Playoffs. The Gusties, who are once again hosting the event, enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed after posting a 16-8 overall record and a 9-1 mark in league play. The Three Crowns will face the highest remaining seed out of Friday’s quarterfinals on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. at the Brown Outdoor Courts.