Blugold Tennis keeps winning

Story by Briana Gruenewald

The Blugold men’s tennis team extended its winning streak to 14 straight games, dominating all three match-ups in Iowa this past weekend.

Friday the Blugolds shut out the University of Dubuque (Iowa), winning 9-0 at the Black Hawk Tennis Club. In the first of two Saturday games, Eau Claire beat Wartburg College (Iowa) 7-2 in the morning. They continued their domination in the afternoon by defeating Morningside College (Iowa) 8-1.

“I think it’s really awesome,” freshman Ryan Vande Linde said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been with a team that’s had only one loss through 15 games.”

He said as long as the team continues to push themselves and work hard, their streak will continue.

Head coach Tom Gillman, who said he is not concerned with wins or losses much at all, was most pleased that the entire team was together for the first time in three weeks.

“You get to get back to the bonding and togetherness that I think the guys on our team really enjoy,” Gillman said. “Yet still we were able to give different people the opportunity to play, so it’s kind of a win-win.”

Against Dubuque, three singles players — seniors Eric Wollum and Chris Thornton and sophomore Florent Marco — only gave up one game.  Sophomore Ben Robertson beat his opponent with sets of 6-2 and 6-0.

Junior Chris Kuna and senior Lars Olson both lost the first set in their singles matches, but eventually defeated their opponents in close matches.

For Vande Linde, the highlight of Friday was watching Kuna beat Dubuque’s Nick Garcia, who is the second ranked player in the Midwest and sixth in the nation.

“(Kuna) was able to beat (Garcia) in an absolutely thrilling match,” Vande Linde said. “After he won, it was just a really sweet feeling.”

No pair in the doubles matches gave up more than two games on Friday. Wollum and junior Dirk Van Rybroek won 8-0 in their match.

On Saturday against Wartburg, Olson and Vande Linde won their singles matches after each losing one of three sets.

In doubles, the Blugolds won two of three doubles matches, and the one loss was a close 9-8.

A highlight from the afternoon against Morningside was freshman Joe Meier giving up no games in his 6-0, 6-0 win.

In doubles play, Kuna and Olson played to an 8-2 win, the same outcome for the team of Meier and freshman Brayden Parman.

Eau Claire will travel to Hilton Head Island, S.C. for spring break, where they will play six matches in five days. Vande Linde said he is looking forward to it. Coach Gillman hopes the team will use it as a time to improve their already developing skills.

“Hopefully a lot of the habits we’ve been working on will come to fruition,” he said. “We’ll be able to continue to improve so that our play is consistent and we’re able to grow and be prepared for the types of matches down the road.”