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ISSUE 119 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/28/2006

Tennis smashes conference foes: Win streak comes at right time for men

By Matthew Simenstad
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 28, 2006

The St. Olaf men’s tennis team capped off their regular season this past Friday and Saturday with back-to-back wins against Bethel and St. Mary’s.

The team defeated Bethel 5-4 on Friday, then handled St. Mary’s easily on Saturday, winning 7-2 and improving their record to 3-6 in the MIAC and 4-10 overall.

On Friday, the Oles lost their three doubles matches early in the afternoon, one of which went to a tiebreaker. The singles matches were moved inside due to rain, but the change of venue suited St. Olaf nicely as they won their first five singles matches and clinched the win.

Against St. Mary’s, the men were in control from the start. They won four of the five singles matches and two of the three doubles matches.

“We ended the season on a strong note,” said Drew Erie ’08, “which is good because we’re a young team and we can only get better next year.”

The Oles’ starting lineup this weekend consisted of three sophomores, two first years and one senior, so there is plenty of room for growth after a tough season.

“We lost a lot of close matches this year and I think we can build on that,” Erie said.

The Oles will lose Mike Matsuura, a steady contributor during his four-year career.

In addition, the team has young talent emerging that should carry them for the next few seasons. First years Ian Pray and David Narvaez played high in the lineup all year and made contributions from their respective positions. Pray played in the top two singles spots and won his match against Bethel.

Narvaez teamed with Erie to form a solid no. 1 doubles duo that can help anchor the team next year and beyond.

Head coach Scott Nesbit is looking forward to some competitive matches and “continued high-quality play” from his Oles. “We will get the opportunity to play some of the same MIAC schools we had such good matches with during the year,” Nesbit said. “We need to be fresh physically and mentally, and ready to compete.”

The way the MIAC standings appear right now, St. Olaf will likely finish somewhere near the middle of the conference. Nesbit, however, has high aspirations for the remainder of 2006.

The Oles will compete in the annual MIAC Tournament, held this Friday and Saturday.

“Our goal is the higher the better,” he said.

The men’s tennis team will add more impact newcomers next year.

They appear poised to improve over the summer and make a move upward in the standings next year.

Only time will tell how far this team can go.

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