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ISSUE 117 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/19/2004

Men hope trip ends losing streak

By Joel Stjernholm
Contributing Writer


Friday, March 19, 2004

Despite a solid all-around effort, the St. Olaf mens tennis team was no match for Gustavus in a March 13 conference match at the Owatonna Fitness Center. The Gusties swept the Oles 9-0, dropping St. Olafs season record to 2-4.

The defeat is part of an inconvenient early season slump, which has seen the team win only one of their last five contests. The Oles have not lost for lack of talent or effort, as every match has been close. Rather, fortune has not favored Ole tennis.

The team plays in arguably the best Division III tennis conference in the nation, the MIAC includes national powerhouse Gustavus, and perennial contenders Carleton and St. Thomas.

Last year Gustavus went undefeated in conference play on their way to a 31-7 overall record. Carleton went 8-1 in the MIAC, losing only to the Gusties.

Competition in the MIAC does not appear to have diminished this year. Gustavus is already 12-3, and Carleton was undefeated in the winter season.

The MIAC is tough, coach Scott Nesbit said. We really enjoy the great competition.

Despite fierce conference opponents, the Oles are optimistic. A spring break trip to Orlando, Fla. and an easier remaining conference schedule should assist the Oles as they look to climb up in the standings.

The spring break trip will give us an opportunity to play a lot of tennis against teams we dont usually see, Nesbit said.

Tom Nagel 04 also sees the value of a spring break trip.

We have been inconsistent this year, Nagel said. Daily tennis on the spring break trip should help us develop that consistency.

As the season progresses, the team will look to develop their young talent on the starting roster.

The 2004 team is green as far as collegiate experience goes. Freshmen Bryon McDonald, Chase Donaldson, and David Harris, as well as sophomore Mike Matsuura will see considerable court time in singles and doubles play.

College tennis is definitely a step up, McDonald said. Playing Gus-tavus, St. Johns, and St. Thomas immediately was difficult, but all of our matches have been close so far. We will improve individually and collectively and pick up more wins as the season goes on.

The young team is anchored by the talented  and Med-school bound  Nagel twins Ted and Tom, as well as senior standout Dan Cohen.

The young players showed promise in wins over Bethel and Concordia, and nearly beat St. Scholastica, but lost 5-4.

The Oles are looking forward to the conference tournament, where they will likely play St. Johns, St. Thomas, and Gustavus again.

If we keep improving we should beat a couple teams at the conference tournament that gave us trouble earlier this season, Nesbit said.

With a spring break trip, a handful of conference matches, and the MIAC tournament remaining, the St. Olaf mens tennis team will have ample opportunity to prove that their recent setbacks are the exception, not the rule.





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