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Filed under Sports

Men’s tennis wins against Hamline

After a couple of weekends of playing multiple matches, the Blugolds’ men’s tennis team enjoyed a single weekend match for the first time this season.

Eau Claire downed Hamline University (Minn.) by a 6-1 margin Saturday to improve the team’s record to 2-5.

“I think that the guys really played well and focused on the match,” first-year head coach Tracy Saloka said.

Saloka said the team’s ability to win the doubles’ point was a highlight of the match.

The Blugolds won two of the three doubles matches to earn the point. In No. 1 doubles, the team of junior Joe Johnston and freshman Jon Snodgrass defeated their Hamline opponents, 8-4.

The No. 3 doubles team of junior Steve Matuszewski and sophomore Andrew Kallio also won 8-4.

“Winning the doubles point – although it’s only one point – really sets the tone for the singles,” Saloka said.

It certainly did.

Johnston gave Eau Claire a lead it would not relinquish as he defeated Hamline’s Troy Kleven 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

The ‘Golds also picked up victories at the No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 singles positions.

The Blugolds won all three matches that went to a third set. The team’s ability to win the close matches pleased Saloka.

“When it’s a really tight match, these guys are able to pull it out,” he said.

Sophomore Ryan Gruhlke, who won his match 5-7, 6-4, 7-6, credited the victories in the long matches to the team’s fitness.

“We’ve been doing a lot of conditioning in practice and it’s paying off now,” Gruhlke said. “We’re able to outlast the other team.”

Saloka said being in good shape allows the players to play smarter and recover faster.

Although the team played well against Hamline, freshman Matt Widder, who earned a win at No. 4 singles, said there is still work to be done.

“We have to solidify out doubles, for sure,” he said. “That’s definitely our biggest need right now.”

Widder also said the team needs to continue to focus on winning the close matches.

The Blugolds will get the opportunity to do that this weekend when they take on College of St. Scholastica (Minn.), Bethel College (Minn.) and St. Ambrose (Iowa).

Last season Eau Claire easily defeated each of those teams, but the loss of some players to graduation and the transition of a new coach to the Blugold squad will make the teams more even, Saloka said.

But the ‘Golds will have something on their side this time they haven’t had yet this season – home-court advantage.

“Playing at home helps,” Saloka said. “That will give us the focus and energy we need to be successful this weekend.”

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