2 men’s tennis players earn spots on podium

This past weekend, the men’s tennis team traveled to Waterloo, Iowa, for the American Rivers Conference Tournament. Many student-athletes came to compete for titles, and the Loras players were no exception.

The tournament kicked off on Friday with the A-flight and B-flight doubles. Five pairs of Duhawks went in to test their skills. In the small A-flight, the sophomore duo of Kevin Blomquist and Konnor Barth took on Ortega and Weill from Luther, which is one of the toughest competitor schools in the league. In a gut-twisting match, the Duhawks managed to take the win, 8-7, after entering a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, things ended for this pair in their second round against Meskell and Lansing of Coe, who defeated them 8-3.

Leading the flock in B-doubles was a team comprised of sophomore Tommy Linkenheld and first-year Sean Gelski. Their conference journey started with Heyerhoff and Smith of Wartburg, who they beat 8-5. Not even Alden and Snakenberg from Central could stop this pair from making it to the quarterfinals, losing 8-1. Unfortunately, that’s where the magic stopped as the Linkenheld and Gelski duo lost to Buena Vista’s Kramer and Foss 8-1 in the quarterfinals.

The other pair of Duhawks to make it into the second round was sophomore Riley Collins and junior Connor Pivnicka, who defeated Wartburg’s Hefel and Veber 8-4. Dewerff and Reiter from Simpson kept this pair from moving on, beating them 8-4.

Other Duhawk pairings for the tournament included: junior Sam Brickley and senior Michael Runde; and sophomore Joe Schneider and first-year Eian Coad. Both pairs fought hard, but were defeated in the first round by Coe’s Oaks and Clarkwilt and Wartburg’s Kincaid and Mason, respectively.

In the A-flight singles, the sole Duhawk representative was none other than Blomquist. His opponent was Luther’s Morton. It was a tough match for Blomquist, and it ended in heartbreak with a loss of 6-2, 6-0.

In B-singles, Loras had five participants. The Duhawk leading the charge in this flight was Collins. 

In his opening match, Collins took on Simpson’s Dewerff, whom he soundly beat 6-1, 6-1. Wartburg’s Kolz was Collins’ second victim, losing to him 6-2, 6-3. In the quarterfinals, Collins secured his spot in the semifinals by overcoming his toughest opponent yet, Central’s St. John, with a final score of 6-4, 7-5. Having finally made it to the semifinals, Collins’s streak ended with his loss of 6-1, 6-0 against Luther’s Weill. 

Not giving up on a podium spot, Collins finished his tournament with a hard-fought win against Dubuque’s Mancilla, winning 7-5, 6-4, 11-9.

The other players to make it past the first match were Gelski, Linkenheld, and Pivnicka. Gelski won against Luther’s Wilson 6-4, 6-3, but lost to Coe’s Oaks 6-4, 6-0. Linkenheld cruised past Coe’s Cook, winning 6-0, 6-1, before losing to Central’s St. John. Pivnicka took on Wartburg’s Hefel, soundly defeating him, 6-1, 6-1, but then was defeated himself by Buena Vista’s Kramer, 2-6, 6-4, 10-8.

Barth, the fifth B-flight competitor, had a challenging match against Simpson’s Turnley. In a gut-wrenching battle, Barth was sadly defeated with a tiebreaker match, the final scores being 0-6, 6-3, 10-8.

In the final flight, C-singles, the remaining players competed for a chance at a title. 

Of this group, the most successful Duhawk was Coad. Coad’s first match pitted him against Central’s Roberts, who he dominated 8-0. Dubuque’s Goeden tried his luck, but was unsuccessful, losing 8-1 to the Duhawk. Even Buena Vista’s Schlader was destroyed by Coad, losing 8-2. 

After efficiently disposing of his first three opponents, Coad’s first tough singles match was against Simpson’s Price. Coad didn’t let up, defeating Price, 5-7, 6-0, 10-7, and went on to take the win against Nebraska Wesleyan’s Retzlaff 7-5, 6-3. With first place just within reach, Coad fought against Simpson’s Walkwitz and won 6-2, 6-4, crowning him the champion C-flight.

Along with Coad, the other players who had to make their way into the brackets were Connor Halbmaier and Sam Brickley. Halbmaier’s first match was against Buena Vista’s Boell, who he beat 8-0. He went on to win against Central’s Christian 8-3, but ultimately lost against Simpson’s Walkwitz 8-2. Brickley faced off against Central’s Turnley and won 8-2. In his match against Wartburg’s Veber, Brickley was taken down 8-4.

The two remaining players, Runde and Schneider, were given a pass and went straight to the first round. Runde had a heartbreaking defeat, 8-0, his opponent being Central’s Alden. Schneider was defeated as well, losing a close match of 8-6 to Nebraska Wesleyan’s Retzlaff.

“Overall, I think the team performed pretty well,” said Head Coach Chad Fenwick. “While our team is young and we’re still trying to figure something out, we were able to crown a champion and take third place in two of the flights.”

With a championship title and a third-place finish added to the list of achievements, the team now turns its sights to Friday, Sept. 27, when it will travel to St. Peter, Minnesota, to compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Tournament.

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