Men’s tennis finishes 4-1 over Spring Break

Story by Steve Fruehauf , Copy Editor

While most students were planning a vacation or heading back home for spring break, the UW-Eau Claire men’s tennis team was preparing to take a business trip to Hilton Head Island, S.C.. There, they went 4-1 after competing against five teams from around the nation.

Their first matchup was March 17 against Kutztown University (Pa.). Although they were a worthy opponent, the Golden Bears were unable to keep the Blugolds from squeaking out a close 5-4 victory to start off play. Head Coach Tom Gillman said it took a lot of fortitude to come out with the victory.

“We were fortunate to be up 2-1 after the doubles so we needed to come up with three of the singles,” Gillman said. “It was a bit of a challenge. We have been playing a lot of new lineups lately.”

Kutztown claimed the first doubles victory over Eau Claire’s No. 1 pair, senior captain Ryan Vande Linde and junior Joe Meier. But the Blugolds struck back, winning the following two matches to finish with a close advantage heading into singles.

Fellow senior captain Flo Marco and freshman Kyle Hoffman pulled out the No. 2 doubles victory 8-4 and then senior David Stingley and junior Brayden Parman claimed the last match with an 8-6 victory of their own.

After dropping their first three singles matches, Eau Claire in turn rallied to take the last three, claiming the overall win against Kutztown. Stingley got things started for the Blugolds in the No. 4 match in three games. Then Hoffman and sophomore Zack Katz finished competition up with victories of their own in the No. 5 and No. 6 matches respectively.

Eau Claire’s second meet was against Millersville University (Pa.) the next day. The Blugolds had a much easier time this go around, beating their opponent easily with a 9-0 overall victory. Marco said skill level may have had something to do with the lopsided outcome.

“The team was definitely a little weaker than the first one,” Marco said. “But we played pretty well. We fought even though the team wasn’t really good.”

Goucher University (Md.) was Eau Claire’s third opponent of the week. The Blugolds managed a lopsided 8-1 victory. The win was their fifth straight.

Eau Claire claimed all three of their doubles matches against the Gophers. The No. 1 doubles was a close one with Van Linde and Meier taking a 8-6 victory. The No. 2 and No. 3 were much more top heavy, ending 8-1 and 9-0, respectively.

Except for Van Linde’s lone No. 1 singles loss, Eau Claire walked away with every singles victory as well. Hoffman, the No. 6 player, was even able to shut out his opponent, Goucher’s Benjamin Snyder, in two games.

The team’s fourth meet was March 20 against Nebraska Wesleyan University. The Blugolds claimed their sixth straight after another 8-1 victory. Stingley said even though the competition wasn’t very high, the Blugolds still prepared the same way for the game.

“(Goucher and Nebraska Wesleyan) weren’t the strongest teams but we still came out ready to play,” Stingley said. “The scores kind of show you. It wasn’t too challenging compared to other matches.”

Vande Linde and Meier as well as Marco and Hoffman, the No. 1 and No. 3 pairs, decided both of their matches with 8-3 victories. Stingley and Roden, the No. 2 pair, finished 8-2 as well.

Much like their meet against Goucher University the day before, Eau Claire claimed singles in all but one match. This time it was the other captain, Marco, who recorded the sole No. 2 loss in the matchup. Marco said the win had to do with the team’s tough mindset.

The final matchup of the team’s spring break was March 21 against Allegheny College (Pa.). This time, Eau Claire lost a close 5-4 matchup. Gillman said the Blugolds knew they would have tough competition based off of a meet they had against Allegheny last season.

“We won a barn burner against them last year and they are even stronger so we knew going in we would have a tussle with them and we did,” Gillman said. “On one hand, we were delighted that we were in the position to win with two matches and superbreakers right at the end.”

The Blugolds No. 1 and No. 2 doubles pairs came out with victories but the third match, played by Marco and Hoffman, ended in an Eau Claire loss. The pair fell 8-5.

Roden and Stingley, the No. 3 and No. 5 singles players, were the only two from Eau Claire to claim wins in the category.

Eau Claire is headed to Illinois Fri., March 29 to play the University of Illinois, a Div. I team. The next day they will host rare matchups at the McPhee Center in Eau Claire. There, they will first play the University of Dubuque (Iowa) and then Northwestern College (Minn.). Marco said the team will come out ready to play.

“I don’t know how coach got us to play a scrimmage against a Div. I school,” Marco said. “I saw it on the schedule and we just added that this weekend so we are still traveling. But otherwise, we will try to fight and then come back and play a home match on Saturday.”

Editor’s note: Zack Katz is currently a copy editor at The Spectator.