Trinity men’s tennis team finishes third in ITA DIII National Indoor Championship

The Trinity men’s tennis team took third in the ITA DIII National Indoor Championship held in Ohio last weekend, beating No. 7 Case Western Reserve. Case Western Reserve fell 3-6 to No. 6 Johns Hopkins University in the semis. Top-seeded Washington-St. Louis took the indoor title with a 6-3 victory over Johns Hopkins.

Senior Greg Haugen was selected as the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the Week for his performance. The Tigers are now 8-3 on the season.

“We had a very good weekend overall,” said senior Nicolas Moreno. “The team did a great job at Indoors and showed the hard work we have put in this year. The guys were able to show great team support and we have proven to ourselves that we have what it takes to win this year at nationals. The overall courage and relentlessness we showed is something to be proud of.”

The fifth-seeded Tigers started the weekend off with a 7-2 victory over the No. 4 California Lutheran University Kingsmen on Friday. The doubles team of sophomore Paxton Deuel and Moreno lost 9-8 in the No. 1 match, but Haugen and junior Jordan Mayer won the No. 2 matchup 8-4, and first years Chas Mayer and Clayton Niess won the No. 3 slot 8-5. In singles play, Deuel won the No. 1 singles 6-1 and 6-3. Haugen took the No. 3 match 6-0, 6-4. Junior Aaron Skinner lost 2-6, 6-4, 10-3 in the No. 2 singles, but Moreno, Jordan Mayer and sophomore Connor Dunn won the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 slots, respectively.

“We knew when we went up against Cal Lutheran that history wasn’t on our side,” Haugen said. “In my three years at Trinity, we have never beaten them. We fell to them last year at the same tournament, but we came up firing on all cylinders. We went up 2-1 after doubles, and from that point on we knew we had them, and took the majority of the singles matches; it was a gratifying win.”

On Saturday, the Tigers fell 3-6 to the Washington University-St. Louis Bears in the semifinals. The Bears had a 2-1 lead after doubles play. Haugen and Jordan Mayer won their No. 2 matchup 8-6; Deuel and Moreno fell 8-3 at No. 1 and Niess and Mayer lost 9-8, 7-2 at No. 3.

“We went into the Wash. U. matches with some swagger from the first day, but we knew we had a challenge ahead of us because they were in the top seed in the tournament,” Haugen said. “We got off to a rocky start in doubles, fought as hard as we could in singles, but they are an extremely talented team and were just really solid throughout the entire tournament. If we come up against them again, we will be better prepared to meet the challenge.”

In singles, Jordan Mayer won his No. 5 slot 6-3, 6-4, remaining undefeated. Deuel battled for the No. 1 slot with a 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-3, 3-0 (modified set). Skinner lost the No. 2 singles slot 7-5, 6-3 and Haugen lost the No. 3 slot 6-4, 6-3. Moreno and Dunn also fell to the Bears in the No. 4 (6-1, 6-4) and No. 6 slots [7-6 (7-4), 6-2].

“Nemo and Chas really stepped it up and showed tremendous guts,” said head coach Russell McMindes. “They had to break serve to stay alive in the match and did, then held. They gave themselves a couple match points, but ultimately Wash. U. was able to hit a few timely great shots and pulled it out. Very high-quality match, though. In singles, we couldn’t quite get over the hump in a few of our matchups, but what I was really proud of was how the team responded the following morning against Case Western Reserve.”

On Sunday, the Tigers outplayed the host Case Western Reserve University Spartans with a 7-2 victory, earning them bronze in the tournament. The Tigers won two out of three doubles matches against the Spartans. Haugen and Jordan Mayer won the No. 2 line 8-5, while Chas Mayer and Niess won the No. 3 line 8-4. Deuel and Moreno lost 8-2 in the No. 1 matchup. In singles play, the Tigers took five of six matches.

Deuel lost the No. 1 singles slot 7-6, 6-2. Skinner won the No. 2 slot 6-4, 6-2, Haugen won the No. 3 singles slot 6-4, 6-3 and Moreno out-battled the No. 4 line 7-6, 6-3. Jordan Mayer took the No. 5 singles line 6-4, 6-3, continuing his undefeated streak (9-0 in singles). Chas Mayer took the No. 6 slot 7-6, 6-2.

“It’s never easy to come back on a quick turnaround after a disappointing loss,” McMindes said. “Our guys handled it beautifully. They played with great team energy and got the lead on a team that thrives in doubles. In singles, our guys really showed a lot of grit, as we won five tight first sets to clamp down the match. We then went on to secure all 5 of those matches for a solid 7-2 win. Phenomenal team effort and a great match to build on.”

The Tigers will play St. Edward’s University at 3 p.m. today in Austin, Texas. Deuel and junior Charlie Curtis will both be out due to injury.

“I think this is a great match to get us ready for our trip up to Washington and California. They are a tough team and they are going to defend their home courts with a big battle. I think this can be the opportunity to show the improvements from the Indoors tournament,” Moreno said.