BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Just eight matches remain in the 2019 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) men's tennis regular season, but there will be plenty riding on those eight matches, as four of the five spots in the conference playoffs are still left unclaimed.
Only 7-0 Carleton has clinched a playoff spot. Gustavus can punch its ticket to the postseason with a win in one of the Gusties' three matches next weekend. Saint John's and Bethel also have the inside track to the MIAC tournament, with Macalester, St. Thomas, and St. Olaf all fighting to get in as well.
Gustavus is ranked No. 17 with Carleton at No. 38 in the latest Oracle/ITA Division III Men's Tennis National Rankings, released on April 11. The Gusties rank third in the latest Central Region rankings, followed by the Knights at No. 8 and Macalester at No. 20.
Hamline's Jake Trondson is the top-ranked singles player in the MIAC, currently slotted at No. 11 in the nation. Carleton's Leo Vithoontien is ranked No. 15, with Gustavus' Patrick Whaling and Chase Johnson at Nos. 23 and 24, respectively. Whaling and Johnson are also ranked No. 3 in the country as a doubles team, with teammates Yassine Derbani and Nick Aney at No. 13. Carleton's Vithoontien and Jordon O'Kelly are ranked No. 19.
Vithoontien ranks fourth in the Central Region this week, with Whaling at No. 5 and Trondson at No. 10. Johnson and Derbani rank Nos. 14 and 18 in the region, respectively, for singles play. In doubles action, Johnson and Whaling are tops in the Central with Vithoontien and O'Kelly at No. 4 and Derbani and Aney at No. 8.
AROUND THE MIAC
Bethel senior Hunter Fernelius got back on track with a pair of wins at No. 1 singles last week, as BU topped St. Thomas and Macalester - each by 5-4 margins - in league play. Fernelius is 6-2 in MIAC matches this season, with his only losses coming against nationally-ranked opponents Patrick Whaling of Gustavus and Leo Vithoontien of Carleton.
Carleton sophomore Leo Vithoontien won all eight matches he played last week, with four wins in singles and four in doubles. He extended his singles win streak to 14 matches and avenged his only loss to a D-III opponent this season when he defeated nationally-ranked Jake Trondson of Hamline on Friday night. Vithoontien returned to the court on Sunday and cruised past the top player in the lineup for regionally-ranked Coe College by a 6-0, 6-1 margin. In doubles, he and Jordon O'Kelly dropped only nine games total in their four victories.
Concordia's Ben Swanson won his final two singles matches of the season at the No. 3 spot with a 6-2, 6-2 win versus Hamline and a 6-3, 6-3 triumph against St. Olaf. Swanson went 4-5 on the year in singles play.
Gustavus senior Patrick Whaling went undefeated in two matches as the Gusties beat Luther 9-0 and No. 28 Kalamazoo 7-2 last week. Whaling won both of his No. 1 singles matches in straight sets and claimed 8-3, 8-6 wins at No. 1 doubles with partner Chase Johnson.
Hamline's Jake Trondson extended his singles win streak to eight in a row with victories at No. 1 singles over Saint Mary's and Macalester before falling to nationally-ranked Leo Vithoontien of Carleton on April 12. Trondson is now 14-3 in singles action on the year.
Macalester first-year Jeffrey Jorgensen is now 3-1 in his last four matches after snagging a win against Bethel on Monday. Jorgensen won 6-4, 6-3 at the No. 2 spot.
Saint John's senior Ryan Meger extended his win streaks to five in both singles (No. 3) and doubles (No. 2) competition with a 2-0 weekend. Meger is now 7-7 (5-2 MIAC) in singles and 10-6 (5-2 MIAC) in doubles this season.
Saint Mary's Trevor Smiley picked up his team-leading ninth singles wins of the season in the team's 8-1, season-ending loss to Luther last Saturday. Smiley also earned a team-high three victories in MIAC competition this year.
St. Olaf senior Corey Loken provided the clinching fifth point at No. 1 singles to help the Oles edge Concordia, 5-4, on Thursday night. Loken has a team-best three MIAC wins this season.
St. Thomas' Erich Nuss extended his win streak to four matches with wins over Saint John's and Bethel at the No. 6 spot last weekend. Nuss is 9-1 overall this season, with a perfect 6-0 record in MIAC play.