St. Olaf 5, Luther College 4 (box)

Ole men's tennis battles to win over Luther

Michael Abdella
April 1, 2012

DECORAH, Iowa- Before Saturday, the St. Olaf men's tennis team had lost six straight matches against Luther, but the team snapped the streak by topping the Norse 5-4 on Saturday afternoon.

For the second year in a row, the match between the Norse and Oles ended up 5-4 but this time it was in St. Olaf's favor. The Oles earned the victory by winning three of the five singles matches that went three sets (with full third sets), after taking a 2-1 lead following doubles play. John Wight, Andy Catania, and Stephen Nolan each picked up wins in both singles and doubles.

With Luther ahead 4-3, Wight and Catania both needed to win their singles matches in order for St. Olaf to pick up the victory. Playing against Nick Mozena at second singles, Wight won the first set but dropped the second in a tie-breaker. In the third set, Mozena was up a break 2-1 when he started to cramp and got treatment. Wight then traded breaks of serve with Mozena to stay trailing 3-2 when Mozena cramped up again. . At 5-5, Mozena was forced to default because of his severe cramping, leveling the match score at 4-4.

The match came down to the fourth singles battle between Andy Catania and Matt Bellio. Catania cruised through the first set 6-1 before Bellio claimed the second set in a tie-break. Catania got off to a 4-1 (one break) lead in the third set at the time when Mozena began to cramp. Bellio got back on serve but still trailed Catania 4-3. After Mozena had to retire, Bellio led Catania 6-5 and served for the match. Catania fought off two match points, the second of which came on a double fault. After Catania broke back, the match went to a all-deciding tie-break. Catania led 4-2 and 6-3 in the breaker, but Bellio ripped a running forehand down the line for a winner to get within 6-4. On match point with Catania scrambling , Bellio misjudged a volley and missed, giving the Oles a 5-4 win. Catania is now 7-1 this spring, including four straight wins.

In other singles matches, Luther's Scott Sundstrom defeated Knute Gundersen 6-1, 6-3 to improve to 12-1 on the year. The Norse also got three set victories from James Ayer and Torstein Jystad at fifth and sixth singles. The Oles other singles point came from Stephen Nolan, who beat Aaron Gendron 6-1 in the third, to win his seventh straight singles match.

Earlier, St. Olaf got off to 2-1 lead with doubles wins from Catania and Wight and Gundersen and Nolan. Catania and Wight topped Ramesh Karki and Sundstrom 8-4, while Gundersen and Nolan defeated Quinn Foley and Mozena 8-6. Catania and Wight are a perfect 8-0 this spring. Luther's team of Gendron and Tyler Zinnecker claimed a 8-4 win over Jon Foss and Jack Dutton.

St. Olaf improves to 9-1, 2-0 MIAC this spring. The Oles have won four straight matches. Luther falls to 13-4 overall, including a 4-0 mark in IIAC play. St. Olaf travels to St. Paul on Tuesday to face MIAC foe Hamline at 4 p.m. The Pipers are 5-7, 0-4 in MIAC play.

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