Their final shot

Story by Tuesday Wustrack

The UW-Eau Claire men’s tennis team won two of three final regular matches last weekend.

The team won their first two matches, going 5-4 against UW-La Crosse and 9-0 against UW-Oshkosh. They lost their third match of the weekend to UW-Whitewater with a score of 3-6.

Despite the loss, coach Tom Gillman said that the Blugolds played their best three matches all year.

“I think we had a lot of good performances,” he said. “The most important thing was the fact that … they were ready to play for all their matches. They competed really hard.”

Stand-out players were sophomore Joe Meier and freshman Michael Roden, who both went 3-0 in their singles matches. Junior Florent Marco and freshman Joey Minear also did well, going 2-1 on the weekend.

Gillman said he was proud of all of the players this weekend, but said Meier stood out among the rest in his mind. He was named Athlete of the Week for April 16-22.

In the No. 5 singles spot, Meier earned a 6-4, 6-3 victory against La Crosse and a 6-2, 6-2 win against Oshkosh. The last match against Whitewater was his closest win as he went 7-6, 3-6, 10-7.

“I was tired from all the other matches,” Meier said, “and also it took me to a first set tie breaker, so it was definitely the hardest match of the weekend.”

Meier said the Oshkosh match was his best of the season. He attributed his success to improving the mental side of the competition.

“Our coach has been emphasizing keeping our emotions in tact and not getting angry at ourselves,” he said. “That definitely helps while you’re playing.”

In the No. 1 singles position, senior captain Chris Kuna went 1-2. He had close losses against La Crosse and Whitewater but won in the second match against Oshkosh 6-1, 6-3.

In the No. 1 doubles spot, Kuna and his doubles partner Minear went 2-1 in their matches. The pair lost the first match by a considerable amount before bouncing back in the second with an 8-0 win over Oshkosh. But it was the last match that was the most exciting, Kuna said, as they earned close 9-8 victory against Whitewater.

“My favorite (performance) was the last doubles match against Whitewater,” he said. “My partner and I had been working on solving a few problems we’d been having, and we have been improving a lot lately.”

Overall, Kuna said he was proud of his team throughout all the weekend matches, even with the close loss to Whitewater.

“I would say we made Whitewater very nervous, and we really made it a lot closer than they were hoping it would be,” he said.

Those matches put the Blugolds at 18-8 on the season. The team is currently waiting to find out if they will compete at the 2012 NCAA Championships.

Coach Gillman said that even though the players did the best they’ve done all season, they might not get to compete at Nationals.

“I don’t think that was quite enough for us,” he said, “but it doesn’t diminish what we achieved.”

The selections for Nationals will be decided May 7.