Beyler wins an MWC Crown

Andy York

Nick Beyler won the fourth singles championship for the second consecutive year, and was one of the reasons why the Vikings finished second as a team in the MWC this spring. (James Estes)

The Lawrence University Men’s Tennis team went to Madison last weekend thinking they had a good chance to bring back a lot of hardware. But when it was all over, sophomore Nick Beyler was the only Viking to bring home a first place finish.The Vikings started the three-day tournament off on the right foot Friday in the semifinals of the team tournament. The Vikings were playing Grinnell, who they defeated 4-3 earlier in the season.

The Vikings beat Grinnell 5-1 by winning the doubles point and then winning four singles matches, losing one, and not completing one. This win contrasted the Vikings’ loss to Grinnell in last year’s semifinals.

The Vikings played Ripon for the team title Friday afternoon. Ripon had crushed the Vikings 6-1 earlier in the regular season. It was the same outcome here, as the Vikings couldn’t find the touch against the Redhawks, who went on to win the match and the trophy 4-0.

Saturday was the singles portion of the MWC tournament, and one where the Vikings had two individual winners last year. Beyler, one of the returning champions, didn’t let his fans down as he breezed through the field at number four singles, winning the championship match by a score of 6-2, 6-4 over Steve Bachta of Knox.

The Vikings fared well in the rest of the singles matches, but couldn’t hang on. At first singles Jai Arora swept his first two matches, but he didn’t have enough after winning the first set in a three-set loss to Jared Goerlitz of Ripon in the championship match. Arora lost 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

Fabrice Munyakazi-Juru had the same luck. He eased through his first two matches, and won the first set of the championship match, but lost the next two and the title to Adam Bruno of Ripon by a score of 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.

At third singles, Brian Hilgeman lost to second seed Rob Burda of Lake Forest in the first round. Hilgeman then went on to not lose a single game, winning the consolation championship.

At fifth singles Alex Clark had the same thing happen to him. He lost in the first round to Sebastian Bienna of Lake Forest, but also would not lose another game. He swept the consolation bracket for the title.

Finally for the Vikings at the number six spot, Dave Carter won his first round match but couldn’t get past Shihan Abeygunawardana in the semifinals and lost 6-2, 6-3.

The doubles portion rounded out the tournament on Sunday. At first doubles, Arora and Munyakazi-Juru repeated their singles performances. They swept the first two matches easily, and then won the first set of the championship match. However, they would drop the last two and finish second to familiar foes Goerlitz and Bruno of Ripon.

Hilgeman and Beyler were defending their second doubles title from a year ago, and after taking the first two matches easily, it looked like they would do it again. Ripon again had other ideas. Beyler and Hilgeman won the first set 6-4, but again the Vikings could not hold the lead and Paul Vandenboogaard and Mike Sumnicht won the title in three sets.

In the third doubles match Clark and Dan Putterman won their first round match, but lost in a tiebreak in the second set of the semifinals to Dave Rahofy and Jon Betts of Knox.

The Vikings ended the season with a 7-4 record in dual matches, and will be back next spring to try to win the title, after improving from third place to second place this year.

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