No. 10 Bethany shuts out Bulldogs in season-opening match
SEWARD, Neb. – No. 10 Bethany College, a perennial men’s tennis power in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, lived up to its preseason ranking by dominating Concordia, 9-0, early Saturday in the Fieldhouse. The visiting Swedes (1-1) set the tone by sweeping through doubles and then rolled right on through singles.
Despite mostly lopsided set scores, assistant coach James Ingrahm liked the way his team fought against one of the NAIA’s top squads.
“It’s always tough to lose, but the team we were playing today is ranked No. 10 in the NAIA. It’s good for the guys to see this level of competition. The next time we’re on the practice court we have something to try to aspire to, an aim and a vision to be like in terms of level of play.”
Concordia (0-1) junior Joel Kaldahl impressed with his competitiveness in a 6-1, 7-5 loss to Laurentsi Arakhamiya at No. 4 singles. Kaldahl and company made a talented Swede team grind out victories at each spot in the lineup.
“It was definitely good to get out there and compete against new faces,” Kaldahl said. “We’re all ready to compete so that was a good thing. The first set he was running me all over the place. I just had to hang in there and change some things up and work on the second set – keep fighting.”
Kaldahl enjoyed the chance to go up against top-notch competition at the outset of the season.
“It helps because there is nothing to lose,” Kaldahl said. “You can go out there. There’s no fear. There’s no anxiety. You just go out there and play your best game. Everything’s a learning experience.”
Going up against the Bethany doubles pair of Marcelo Alecio and Kane Olsen (rated No. 18 in the NAIA at the end of last season), senior Cole Egger and junior Nathan Wingfield made their counterparts work even in a match that ended 8-1. Ingrahm commented that it was a tough 8-1.
Junior Nathan Wingfield went toe-to-toe with one of the NAIA’s top singles players at the top of the lineup. Michiel Van Den Bogaert, ranked No. 12 at least season’s end, took a 6-3, 6-3, decision over Wingfield to close out the match.
In defeat, Ingrahm saw steady improvement compared to what the team looked like early in the offseason.
“Even though we lost, you cannot fault the guys,” Ingrahm said. “The guys gave 110 percent – every single one of them. When I first came here compared to now everyon has improved by leaps and bounds. Every single day we aim to get a little bit better and that’s what we have done.”
The Swedes brought three other individuals ranked by the ITA at the end of 2012 into play on Saturday. James Bragg (No. 23), Alecio (No. 23) and Shane Huggins (No. 47) also won straight-set matches.
The Bulldogs return to action on Feb. 22 when NCAA Division III Simpson College (Iowa) visits Seward for a 6 p.m. match. The Storm went 5-14 overall with an 0-8 mark in the Iowa Conference last season.
9 February 2013