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ISSUE 121 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/2/2008

Men's tennis swept in playoff opener

By Barrett Kennedy
Sports Editor

Friday, May 2, 2008

The final scoreboard never completely encapsulates a sports contest. Such was the case in the opening quarterfinal match up of this year's MIAC men's tennis tournament.

The St. Olaf squad, entering the day as the no. 6 seed, was blanked 6-0 by the third-seeded Bethel Royals in the first round of the playoff tournament. However, the men lost a number of closely-contested matches Friday, especially in doubles play.

Ian Pray '09 and Nick Crnkovich '09 led off St. Olaf's playoff run, playing first doubles against Bethel's top pairing. The two men lost 8-6 in a hard-fought match, the first of a number of narrow defeats that would spoil the Oles' playoff hopes.

Nick Peters '10 and Will Mitchell '11, both getting their first taste of postseason tennis, forced their doubles match to a tiebreaker, but fell 9-8 in the end.

The experienced team of Drew Erie '08 and David Narvaez '09 fared a similar fate, losing their match at second doubles 8-5. These three closely-contested doubles matches landed the Oles in a difficult 3-0 deficit heading into singles play.

"The difference in all the [doubles] matches came down to a few unlucky shots and a couple breaks that didn't go our way," Erik Brekke '08 said. Overall, the doubles teams played well, but when Bethel catches a number of lucky breaks it becomes difficult to win the match, he added.

The men were able to complete only half of their singles matches as things continued to bounce the Royals' way.

Pray was unable to solve Bethel's top singles player, falling 6-4 in the first set and 6-3 in the second. Erie struggled to secure games during his match at no. 2 singles and he lost 6-1, 6-2.

Narvaez's singles set results were nearly a mirror image of his April 12 match. Squaring off against the same Bethel opponent, Narvaez found himself again in a tiebreaker. The first time, Narvaez emerged the victor after winning the tiebreaker 10-6. In this match full of tough losses, Narvaez found himself on the short end of a 10-7 tiebreaker result.

The three remaining singles matches did not need to be completed as Bethel clinched the victory to advance to the MIAC semifinals.

"We were definitely disappointed with how the season finished, but given the adversity we faced, we are fairly pleased with how the season went as a whole," Brekke said.

"Making the playoffs was a big accomplishment."

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