Without Wight, Ole men grind out win over Saint John's
April 27, 2012
OWATONNA, Minn.- Despite playing without senior John Wight, the St. Olaf men's tennis team clinched the third seed in the upcoming MIAC Playoffs by grinding out a 5-4 win against Saint John's at Owatonna Indoor Tennis Center on Friday evening.
The Oles trailed the Johnnies 4-3 with two singles left on court, but won the final two matches to secure the 5-4 win. The final two matches were the first singles match between Knute Gundersen and Fabricio Moncada and the fifth singles match between Charlie Reinertsen and Zach Shriwise.
Moncada took the first set against Gundersen, as he broke Gundersen late in the set after Gundersen had battled back from a getting broken in the opening game. Gundersen was broken right away in the second set and Moncada served for the match at 5-4, but Gundersen fought his way to level the set at 5-5. After saving a match point, Gundersen forced the second set to a tie-breaker, which featured big hitting from both players. Gundersen took the lengthy tie-breaker 8-6 to force a match tie-break. Gundersen and Moncada each had a mini-break advantage in the breaker, but it was Gundersen's consistency and big serve that proved to be the difference as he claimed arguably the biggest win of his Ole career 4-6, 7-6(6), 10-7.
Gundersen's win made the score 4-4, heaping all the attention on the Reinertsen Shriwise match. Reinertsen won the first set 7-5, after holding an early 4-1 lead. The second set was also highly competitive and went to a tie-break. Reinertsen's consistency from the back of the court helped him claim the tie-breaker 7-3, as he provided the vital fifth point for the Oles. The win was the junior's team-leading seventh MIAC singles win of the year.
Due to the absence of Wight, everybody slid up one spot in the singles line-up and Nico Gibb played sixth singles. In other singles action, St. Olaf got wins from Andy Catania and Jon Foss at third and fourth singles. Catania comfortably topped Joe Laue 6-3, 6-1 for his sixth MIAC win in seven matches. Foss also claimed his sixth MIAC win by beating Connor Rust 6-3, 6-4. Ian Hansen and Willie Paul were the singles winners for Saint John's. Hansen took a close first set against Stephen Nolan before rolling in the second set. Paul defeated Gibb 6-4, 6-4 at sixth singles in Gibb's second singles match of the year. Hansen and Paul each have just one conference loss each this spring.
The Oles were also forced to alter their doubles line-up without Wight. Catania teamed with Reinertsen at third doubles and, after playing together ten times two years ago, the duo cruised to a 8-4 win over John Burns and Paul. Foss and Jack Dutton moved up to the second position and lost a very close match to Laue and Shriwise. Foss and Dutton lead by a break before Laue and Shriwise broke back for 6-6 and the match went to a tie-breaker. The Johnnie duo took the breaker 7-5 after Dutton's backhand found the net. Gundersen and Nolan had their chances in their match against Hansen and Moncada, but were unable to capitalize and fell 8-6.
After clinching the third seed in the upcoming MIAC Playoffs, St. Olaf sits at 14-2, 7-1 in the MIAC. It is the first time in recent memory that the Oles have been seeded third. Saint John's moves to 6-10, 4-4 in the conference and is currently fifth. St. Olaf will face either Saint John's or Macalester in the first round of the playoffs on Friday. The Oles wrap up their regular season schedule by traveling to St. Peter on Saturday for a match against Gustavus at Swanson Indoor Tennis Center. The match will start at 11:30 am.