Blugold men continue success

Story by Ashley Hofer

Posted at 1:40 p.m. 4/13/10

Making it difficult for the opponents to compete is, at the very least, what a coach hopes for each match, said men’s tennis coach Tom Gillman. Last weekend, the Blugolds achieved this standard and more.

The Blugold men took on Wartburg College (Iowa) and Wheaton College (Ill.) at home last weekend. The team not only challenged its opponents, but also continued the winning season picking up 8-1 and 7-2 victories, respectively.

“We played two pretty tough opponents,” junior Lars Olson said. “We’ve really been focused on just bringing our best game.”

The Blugolds kicked off the weekend against Wartburg College Friday afternoon. The team won two of its three doubles competitions. No. 2 duo senior Kevin Fawcett and Olson grabbed the 8-0 victory and No. 3 pair junior Eric Wollum and sophomore Dirk Van Rybroek beat their Wartburg opponents 8-3.

In singles competition, Eau Claire pulled off wins in all six matches. While No. 5 Wollum didn’t give up a game throughout the match, the No. 1 and No. 3 competitions were more closely contested. In the No. 1 match, senior Chris Kuna dropped the first set 5-7, but won the next set 6-2 to force the tiebreaker. Scoring 10-4, Kuna picked up the match. It was a similar story for Olson in the No. 3 spot, who first lost 4-6, then won 7-5 and 10-6 to help the Blugold team sweep the singles competition.

“We started the weekend really showing we were going to compete,” Gillman said of the results of the Wartburg matches.

Against Wheaton, the Blugolds got off to a strong start, winning all three of its doubles events. Senior Phil Loprinzi and Kuna won from the No. 1 spot with an 8-0 victory while Fawcett and Olson fought to pick up the 8-6 win in the No. 2 spot.

The Blugolds also claimed impressive victories in four of the six singles matches. Kuna picked up a 6-0, 6-2 win from the No. 2 slot, Olson beat his opponent 6-3, 6-4 in the No. 3 match, Fawcett won 6-1, 6-2 from the No. 4 spot, and Marco won his No. 6 match as well. Marco’s matchup was an especially close battle, as he won the first set 6-3 then dropped the second after losing all six games. But in the final set, Marco toppled his Wheaton rival with a score of 10-8.

The wins improve the team to 20-4 on the season. Gillman said some of the team’s success has been because of the increased depth of the team.

“We’re a lot more dangerous,” he said, explaining how the team has earned more points from the top of the lineup compared to years past.

Next up, the Blugolds will play away matches against three UW schools over the weekend, starting with UW-La Crosse on Friday.

Olson said the team was looking forward to playing the Wisconsin schools, and that last weekend’s matches helped the team prepare for next week.

“Whenever we play three opponents in weekend, it’s a grind; it’s tough,” he said, adding that while they would be facing tough opponents, they’ve worked into top shape all season. “We really need to make sure we bring our best to the court.”

Gillman said facing the three UW schools is a big weekend every year, but the team has never been more confident heading into this set of matches.

“I’ve got no concerns going in about our ability to be successful,” he said. “We need to keep a good perspective on winning and losing . I expect good things from the team.”