Last weekend, April 27-29, the Lawrence University men’s tennis team traveled to Madison, Wisc. to compete in the Midwest Conference Championships. The Vikings ended up in a three-way tie for first place after defeating St. Norbert College the previous Sunday, April 22, but they ended up in third place after the tiebreaker, and were ineligible to compete in the team competition on Friday. The men competed in the individual singles and doubles competitions on Saturday and Sunday, and overall placed fifth as a team.
The singles competitions were held Saturday, April 28. ** Jason Dunn played through plantar fasciitis, extremely painful inflammation of the connective tissue on the bottom of his foot. In the No. 1 singles competition, Dunn lost in the quarterfinals and defaulted in the consolation finals due to his injury. At No. 2 singles, Max Zlevor won the consolation semi-final match, but lost in the finals 4-8 to Karolis Ruzgas from Knox. Senior captain Caleb Ray lost in the quarter finals against David Stewart from Monmouth, but came back to win the consolation final 8-2 over Knox’s Jonathan Ng at No. 3 singles. ** Cooper Smith defeated Illinois College in the quarterfinals, but lost in the semifinals to the 2 seed player from Monmouth for No. 4 singles.
Freshman Craig Sherwood stepped up big in the conference tournament for No. 5 singles. Sherwood defeated the No. 1 seeded player from Grinnell in the quarterfinals. He blew past Lake Forest’s Kevin Lasky in the semifinals but fell to Monmouth’s Chris Utterback to take second place in the No. 5 singles competition. ** Jeremy Andereck defeated Carroll’s Frankie Giuffre in the quarterfinals, but lost a hard-fought battle against St. Norbert’s Nate Gosz in the semifinal round for No. 6 singles.
The doubles competition took place Sunday, April 29. Dunn and Zlevor won their first round, but lost a close match against St. Norbert’s (7-6, 6-2) in the semifinal round for No. 1 doubles. Ray and Smith at No. 2 doubles lost in the quarterfinals in a close match against Carroll University.
At No. 3 doubles, Sherwood and Andereck lost to Grinnell in the quarterfinal, but came back to defeat Lake Forest’s Lasky/White duo 8-0 in the consolation final. Sherwood had a remarkable overall performance in the tournament, and when asked to comment on his first season with the Lawrence squad, he replied, “I did not do as well as I had hoped, but I came back at the end of the season and proved myself in the conference tournament.”
When asked to comment on the overall outcome of the season, Ray noted, “We set goals this year to beat either Carroll or St. Norbert and make it to the conference tournament. We defeated St. Norbert, so we were able to accomplish one of those goals.” Smith added, “We had a series of unlucky breaks. A few injuries toward the end of our season really affected us and we were not able to do as well as we hoped.”
With regards to the outcome of the conference tournament specifically, Andereck replied, “We improved as a team and wanted to prove that we could compete with the top teams this year. That’s exactly what we did.”
The men’s tennis season has now come to a close. Looking ahead to next year, the team is very positive. Zlevor remarked, “Our conference as a whole continues to improve and we are adding another team to our conference, which will make the competition even tougher. However, our team continues to improve, and we will be better as a team next year, so we are looking forward to the future.”