The Gustavus men’s tennis team earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship by winning the 2012 MIAC Playoff Title with impressive wins over St. Thomas, 5-1 in the semifinals, and Carleton, 5-0 in the championship match on Saturday night in St. Peter, Minn. The Gusties defended last year’s playoff title, improving to 20-7, and achieved their fifth MIAC postseason championship since the tournament began in 2007.
The Gusties, who were the No. 1 seed in the playoff tournament, received a bye on the first day and opened play against St. Thomas on Saturday afternoon. The Tommies advanced to the semifinals with a 5-2 win over Macalester on Friday. Gustavus started the day with wins over St. Thomas at No. 1 and 3 doubles, both by scores of 8-3. The Tommies took No. 2 doubles with an 8-6 decision by Brendon O’Connell and Allen-Michael Muench. In singles play, Juan Luis Chu made quick work of O’Connell at the No. 3 spot, 6-1, 6-0. Mya Smith-Dennis followed suit with a 6-1, 6-4 victory at No. 2 and Amrik Donkena sent the Gusties into the title match with a 6-2, 6-1 win at the top singles spot.
Carleton started its day with a pair of doubles victories. Peter Dunn and Paul Cooper edged Macalester’s Andy Catania and John Wright 9-8 at the No. 1 spot, while Austin Jiang and Andrew Hwang tallied an 8-2 win at the No. 3 position. McCoy Becker (No. 6) and Dunn (No. 1) gave the Knights a 4-1 lead, but St. Olaf didn’t go quietly. At the No. 2 spot, Wright battled back from a 6-1 first set loss to Avery Rux to claim the next two 7-6, 6-3, cutting the St. Olaf deficit to two. The match was then claimed at the No. 3 slot as Austin Jiang defeated Stephen Nolan 6-4, 0-6, 6-3.
In the championship match, Gustavus faced Carleton in the re-match of the 2011 championship, when the Gusties defeated the Knights and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Gusties started Saturday’s title match with a clean sweep in doubles. No. 1 and 2 were 8-4 decisions, while the No. 3 spot was claimed by Joey MacGibbon and Bradley Entwistle in a 9-8 tiebreaker.
In singles draw, the Gusties received two straight-set victories from Chu (No. 3) and MacGibbon (No. 5) to secure the title. Chu defeated Jiang 6-2, 6-1, while MacGibbon defeated Cooper 6-2, 6-0.
The Gusties will find out on Monday who and where they will play in the first round of the NCAA Regional Championships.
1. Amrik Donkena (GAC) vs. Peter Dunn (CAR) 6-5, unfinished
2. Mya Smith-Dennis (GAC) vs. Avery Rux (CAR) 6-3, 1-0 unfinished
3. Juan Luis Chu (GAC) def. Austin Jiang (CAR) 6-2, 6-1
4. Tyler Johnson (GAC) vs. Andrew Hwang (CAR) 6-2, 1-4, unfinished
5. Joey MacGibbon (GAC) def. Paul Cooper (MAC) 6-2, 6-0
6. Bradley Entwistle (GAC) vs. McCoy Becker (CAR) 6-2, 2-1, unfinished
1. Amrik Donkena/Mya Smith-Dennis (GAC) def. Peter Dunn/Paul Cooper (CAR) 8-4
2. Juan Luis Chu/Daniel Pomeranc (GAC) def. Austin Jiang/Andrew Hwang (CAR) 8-4
3. Joey MacGibbon/Bradley Entwistle (GAC) def. Jon Aranda/Dan Vollman (CAR) 9-8