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ISSUE 119 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/14/2006

Knights knock out men

By Matt Tiano
Sports Editor


Friday, April 14, 2006

In the win column, it appears as though the St. Olaf men's tennis team is struggling and searching for the right answers. However, when you consider the number of injuries the squad has had to endure and the number of three-set matches that have gone in the oppositions' favor, things don't seem quite as one-sided.

Tuesday, the men traveled across town to Carleton, ranked sixteenth in the Central Region, sporting the sixth-ranked no. 1 doubles tandem and 22nd-ranked ranked no. 1 singles player. The men were swept 9-0, but battled, taking sets at no. 4 singles and no. 6 singles.

Over Spring Break, the team took their biannual trip to the Phoenix, Ariz. area where they faced three quality junior colleges from the state. The Oles fell victim to Scottsdale and Mesa Junior Colleges by scores of 7-2, but bounced back to claim a 7-2 victory over Spokane Falls Community College in the third and final match of the week- long encounter.

The Oles' Erik Brekke '08 was 3-0 on the trip and did not drop a set.

The win against Spokane Falls was an impressive one, as the team swept singles. Highlight performances came from Ian Pray '09, Brekke, David Harris '07, and Bryon McDonald '07. No. 3 through 6 singles only gave up a combined nine games. Drew Erie '08 won a tough three-set match decided by a super-tiebreaker, and senior captain Mike Matsuura won 6-2, 7-5.

"We had some great matches in Arizona," head coach Scott Nesbit said. "We were highly competitive in the majority of matches, but the main thing was just being with the team and playing outside."

The men returned home with a 2-7 overall record, and immediately were primed to hit the road for MIAC play. Their next three matches, however, followed the pattern of failing to capitalize in third sets.

April 5, the Oles traveled to St. Paul to challenge St. Thomas, who escaped with a 5-4 win over the Oles. Unlike St. Olaf''s previous competition, the squad managed to steal two of three doubles matches from the Tommies, with the highlight coming at no. 1 doubles where Erie and Narvaez outplayed the St. Thomas duo 8-5.

Only three days removed from their heartbreaking loss to the Tommies, the team again boarded the bus for St. Paul, this time to take on Hamline. This time around, St. Olaf lost two three-set matches at no. 1 and no. 6 singles, and were also swept in doubles by Hamline.

Although the final score (8-1) would indicate otherwise, the men would not back down without a fight.

"We are definitely continuing to improve down the stretch," Nesbit said. "We are not playing poorly by any means, doubles play is improving every day, and we are getting guys back from injury. Hopefully, we can compete in the MIAC Tournament."

The Oles only have two matches remaining on their regular-season schedule, which take place at home on April 21 and 22 against Bethel and St. Mary's, respectively. The MIAC tournament, which encompasses every MIAC team regardless of record, will be held in Northfield April 28 and 29.





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