St. Peter, Minn. – When it was determined that the 2013 MIAC Men’s Tennis Playoff Championship was going to be contested outdoors, it is fairly safe to say that the players from Gustavus and Carleton would likely never play in a colder collegiate match for the remainder of their careers. Keep in mind that it’s May 4th and much of southern Minnesota experienced over 10 inches of snow just two days prior. Moral of the story – this is what tennis in Minnesota is all about.
Despite temperatures in the mid-40s, the Gusties stayed hot and picked up right where they left off earlier in the day. After sweeping the doubles competition, Gustavus took five of six points in singles play to defeat the Knights 8-1 and claim their third consecutive MIAC Playoff Title.
“I’m proud of the way our guys competed,” said Head Coach Tommy Valentini following the match. “The conditions were difficult, and Carleton competed hard all day. They showed a great deal of character bouncing back from their long semifinal win.”
With the victory, Gustavus improves to 22-9 overall, while Carleton concludes its season 15-6 overall.
Coach Valentini was once again pleased with the play of his doubles teams early in the match. “We got great starts in all three doubles matches which set a great tone for us early,” he said. “Number two and three doubles were excellent out the gates, and our number one team came up big during key moments of the match.”
Grant Leisner (Jr., Andover, Minn.) and Tyler Johnson (Sr., West Bend, Wis.) put Gustavus on top 1-0 with an 8-3 win over Alexander Chin and Austin Jiang at No. 2 doubles. Motasem Al-Houni (So., Tripoli, Libya) and Brad Entwistle (So., Sioux Falls, S.D.) followed shortly with an 8-2 win over Erik Johnson and Christian Nagy at No. 3. Amrik Donkena (Sr., Rochester, Minn.) and Mya Smith-Dennis (Jr., Savage, Minn.) capped the sweep of doubles with a tightly-contested 8-6 win over Paul Cooper and Andrew Hwang.
Valentini said his squad stayed composed through the big moments of the match. “In the singles we played with a lot of poise and our guys executed their individual game plans quite well,” he stated. “We handled the conditions with composure, and played some solid tennis.”
Juan Luis Chu (Jr., Lima, Peru) was the first player to win a point in singles, defeating Andrew Hwang 6-3, 6-2 at the No. 4 spot. Smith-Dennis was the next Gustie finished when he beat Alexander Chin 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2. Donkena took down Austin Jiang 6-3, 6-0 at No. 1, and Joey Mac Gibbon (Jr., Apple Valley, Minn.) beat McCoy Becker 6-4, 6-1 at No. 5.
Carleton’s Paul Cooper picked up his squad’s only win of the match by defeating Leisner in a three set battle 6-4, 4-6, 10-3. Entwistle closed out the match and put the win in the books by outlasting Erik Johnson 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 10-5 at No. 6.
“I’m thrilled that we have another week to be together as a team,” Valentini commented. “The support all of our guys showed for each other was impressive – this was a total team effort. We look forward to getting back to practice Monday and to preparing for an exciting weekend at the NCAA Regionals.”
In addition to the MIAC’s postseason championship plaque, Gustavus received the MIAC’s automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Tournament. The NCAA will host a live selection show online to announce the tournament selections and brackets Monday at 6:00 p.m. Individual selections will be announced online via a press release on NCAA.com Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.