BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The 2016 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Men's Tennis Playoffs featured a pair of impressive performances to set up a heavyweight championship match between the tournament's top two seeds. Both No. 1 Gustavus and No. 2 Carleton each rolled to semifinal wins Friday and will square off Sunday with a title on the line.
Friday in St. Peter, Minn., the Gusties (23-7) swept all nine matches for a 9-0 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded Saint John's (10-9). Meanwhile, in Northfield, Minn., the Knights (17-7) won two of three doubles matches, and added another four wins in singles play to pull out a 6-2 win over third-seeded St. Thomas (11-4).
Those results will send Carleton to Gustavus Sunday, as the only two champions in the 10-year history of the MIAC Playoffs will go head-to-head to continue their collective stranglehold on the title.
NO. 1 GUSTAVUS 9, NO. 4 SAINT JOHN'S 0 | Box Score |
The Gusties began their quest for a sixth-straight MIAC Playoff title, and ninth in the tournament's 10-year history, with a decisive 9-0 win over Saint John's, which knocked off Macalester in the quarterfinal match to earn its date with Gustavus. The home team swept all nine matches, with four of the six singles in straight sets.
In doubles play, the most drama came at the No. 2 spot, as Gustavus' Zach Ekstein and Tommy Entwistle pulled out an 8-5 win over SJU's Ben Lahren and Andrew Nagel. At No. 1, Mohanad Alhouni and Andres Saenz were 8-2 winners, and Mitch Elofson and David Hagberg teamed up for an 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles.
There were two singles matches that went three sets and could have gone either way, but the Gusties came out on top in the decisive set of each. Saenz pulled out a 6-4, 2-6, 10-4, win over Tim Larson at No. 2, and Entwistle rallied for a 6-7, 6-3, 10-4, win over the Johnnie's Ryan Meger at No. 5. Alhouni was a 6-1, 6-2, winner at No. 1, Ekstein scored a 6-2, 6-0, victory at No. 3, Elofson won 6-2, 6-3, at No. 4 and Patrick Whaling cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 6.
NO. 2 CARLETON 6, NO. 3 ST. THOMAS 2 | Box Score |
The tournament's No. 2 and 3 seeds entered Friday's semifinal with just a combined 10 losses between them - only three against MIAC foes - and it appeared early that the match would come down to the final points after a closely-contested set of doubles matches. However, Carleton asserted itself in singles play to surge ahead and close out the 6-2 win over St. Thomas.
The Knights grabbed doubles points at each of the top two spots. Erik Johnson and Kevin Mei combined for an 8-4 win at No. 1, and Christian Nagy and Jordon O'Kelly were 8-3 winners at No. 2. The third spot went to St. Thomas, as Burke Anderson and Ben Wait teamed up for an impressive 8-2 win, to make it a 2-1 match after doubles play.
Luke Elifson gave St. Thomas another lift at No. 1 singles, as he cruised to a 6-3, 6-3, win at the top spot. But that was the only point the Tommies could muster in singles play, as Carleton swept spots 2, 3, 5 and 6, with No. 4 unfinished en route to victory. O'Kelly was a 6-4, 6-3, winner at No. 2 and Andrew Qi won at No.2 6-4, 6-1. The other three matches were extremely close, as Carleton's Patton McClelland pulled out a 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, win at No. 5, and Aaron Goodman rallied for a 5-7, 6-2, 6-0, at No. 6. The unfinished match saw Carleton's Ezra Frankel take the first set (6-4), but UST's Scott Wall was up in the second (6-5).
FITTING FINAL SET FOR SUNDAY
Thanks to their semifinal wins, now the Gusties and Knights can meet in a marquee championship matchup between the only two teams to ever win the tournament title. Gustavus has won eight titles in the tournament's nine-year history, including each of the last five, with only Carleton interrupting that streak in 2010. The championship match is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. on the Gusties' home courts. The tournament champ will receive the MIAC Playoff championship plaque, and the conference's automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Division III Men's Tennis Tournament.
The MIAC has a home page dedicated to the 2016 MIAC Men's Tennis Playoffs, containing schedules, links and information on each of the five teams in the field. There is also an interactive bracket to help fans track the tournament's progress. Throughout the tournament, the page will be updated with scores, stats, updated schedules and more. Fans can also follow the action on the MIAC Scoreboard or on the free MIAC mobile app. Connect throughout the Playoffs on social media through the MIAC's Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #MIACMT.
2016 MIAC Men's Tennis Playoffs
Quarterfinal: Wednesday, May 4 - 4 p.m.
No. 4 Saint John's 6, No. 5 Macalester 3 | Box Score | Recap |
Semifinals: Friday, May 6 - 3:30 p.m.
No. 1 Gustavus 9, No. 4 Saint John's 0 | Box Score |
No. 2 Carleton 6, No. 3 St. Thomas 2 | Box Score |
Championship: Sunday, May 8 - 1 p.m.
Carleton at No. 1 Gustavus | St. Peter, Minn. |