Gusties Shine At USTA/ITA Men’s Tennis Midwest Regional

Posted on September 30th, 2014 by

Brothers Motasem (left) and Mohanad Al-Houni congratulate one another after competing in the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional singles final.

St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus men’s tennis team turned in a successful weekend at the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Championships held this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Swanson Tennis Center and Brown Outdoor Tennis Complex. In a singles draw that featured over 100 of the top players from the midwest, Gustavus had three out of four semifinalists, including the individual champion in Motasem Al-Houni, and runner-up in Motasem’s brother, Mohanad Al-Houni. In a doubles draw with more than 50 top doubles teams, Gustavus also took home the top prize, with Motasem and Andres Saenz capturing the title.

After each winning their first five singles matches, including a hard-fought semifinal vicotroy for Motasem over teammate Brad Entwistle that went three sets, the Al-Houni brothers met in the singles final. The pair battled back and fourth throughout the course of the match and neither ever pulled away, but eventually it was the senior Motasem that came out on top over his freshman brother by a score of 7-5, 6-4.

Motasem Al-Houni (left), head coach Tommy Valentini (center) and Andres Saenz pose after winning the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional doubles title on Sunday.

Motasem Al-Houni (left), head coach Tommy Valentini (center) and Andres Saenz pose after winning the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional doubles title on Sunday.

“It was certainly a neat moment,” said head coach Tommy Valentini. “Challenging no doubt, with an older brother who is established and been with our program for a long time and then a younger one who is just in his first month with the program. I thought they handled it as well as could be expected. They both competed hard and made it a high level, high caliber match which is the best we can ask for and it ended with them both having a smile on their face and sharing a hug, so that was certainly a really special moment.”

“Winning this tournament was one of my college dreams and it finally came true,” said Motasem. “And it was obviously special to win both singles and doubles, I never thought that would happen. But this showed me that all the hard work that I put in during the summer and offseason paid off. Playing my brother in the singles final was tough because of course, I wanted him to win the tournament too. He worked hard, played some amazing matches and proved that he can hang with the toughest guys in the region. I’m really looking forward to what he will accomplish not only this year, but throughout his Gustavus career as well.”

In doubles action, it was again Motasem Al-Houni and his partner Andres Saenz who represented the Gusties on the tournament’s final day. Al-Houni and Saenz, who were seeded second in the draw, cruised their way to the final round where they were met by third-seeded Brady Anderson and Riley Galbraith of Coe College. The Gustie duo looked to be worn down in the first set and fell 7-5 before finding a spark and rallying to a 6-1 second set victory. They then took an early 6-2 lead in the 10-point tiebreaker and eventually came away with the victory 10-5 to seal both titles for Gustavus.

“That was a heck of a performance from both Mota and Andres,” said Valentini. “For Mota after having logged five hours of hard, physical tennis in the morning and against teammates, which I think adds a level of emotion to it, was obviously challenging to have to come back out and play such high caliber tennis. Andres was responsible for providing energy, being bold and really going after it out there and maintaining a certain level of aggressive play and for him to deliver in those key moments was a big step for him. It was also really cool to see those guys make such a big turnaround after being down a set to a very good team from Coe.”

“We’re obviously thrilled to emerge having won both the singles and the doubles draws,” said Valentini. “For Mota and Andres those are fantastic results and we’re proud of them and thrilled for them. With that being said, we’re also trying to look at what happened beyond those final matches…how we did as a team and how we handled the big moments and how they competed as a whole through the entire event. We saw some good things and learned a lot about our group; how the new guys will compete and how the returners are going to embrace some new roles. So when you look at what we did as a whole team, especially when you consider we had teammates playing each other on multiple occasions, we feel as though we took some great steps, but we know we still have a long ways to go.”

Senior Brad Entwistle was one of three Gusties singles semifinalists.

Senior Brad Entwistle was one of three Gusties singles semifinalists.

Entwistle was the other Gustie singles semifinalist. The senior rolled through his first two singles matches, only losing two games total. He then ran into the tournament’s top seed, Jake Humphreys of the University of Wisonsin-Whitewater and played what Valentini called, “maybe the match of the tournament,” en route to a 6-4, 6-4 victory. Entwistle then met seventh-seeded Anderson of Coe in the quarterfinals who he also defeated 6-4, 6-4 before falling to Motasem Al-Houni in the semifinals 4-6, 6-2, 2-6.

“Brad’s match against Humphreys was really a standout performance,” said Valentini. “Brad is such a tremendous leader for us and leads by example. To beat a guy of Humprey’s caliber, who’s accomplished what he’s accomplished at the national level in the last few years, was really a fantastic accomplishment and one that required some serious competitive greatness. Brad needed to be at his best in the big moments and play bold and go for it, and he really did a beautiful job with that.”

As campions of the midwest regional, Motasem Al-Houni and Saenz will now travel to Sumter, South Carolina on October 9-12 to compete in the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships. That tournament is comprised of the eight regional champions (and/or at-large selections) from NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community Colleges and the champions will earn wild cards into the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships with the opportunity to win the culminating event held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Final Results

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  1. Andrea Lipovetz says:

    This makes me cry!!

  2. Abdel Maouhub says:

    congrads , from your uncle Abdel form Montreal Canada , i which them all the best