SEWARD, Neb. – With just the Nos. 5 and 6 singles matches left on the court, the Concordia University Men’s Tennis team needed to pull through in both in order to defeat Doane on Wednesday (April 21) evening. Isaac Howes and Joe Bindl relished the clutch moments and lifted the Bulldogs to a 4-3 win over the visiting Tigers. Once again, the back half of the lineup played a critical role.
Head Coach David DeSimone has led both the men’s and women’s tennis teams to 5-0 starts in conference play. The Concordia men (9-4, 5-0 GPAC) are one triumph away from winning an outright conference regular season title.
“It’s exciting and nerve-wracking,” DeSimone said of Wednesday’s conclusion. “I was just happy and excited to have such depth at the bottom of the lineup. Isaac and Joe at 5 and 6 really played well and battled well. I knew for Joe going into that second set that he was in a good spot. He was playing his game and developing points. I had a good feeling about it.”
There are plenty of good feelings within the program these days. In the last full GPAC season (2019), the Bulldogs placed fourth in the conference with a 3-3 mark. Concordia has used superior lineup depth to climb the ladder this season. Bindl now owns a sparkling 11-1 singles record after his latest victory. After Howes won in three sets (6-4, 4-6, 6-3), Bindl and opponent Donat Beke had the stage all to themselves. Bindl avoided a third set and won, 6-1, 6-4.
It was a fine way to put an end to a senior night. Prior to the match, Luke Zoller and Octavio Velazquez were honored for their contributions to the program. The work of Eduardo Rojas, Howes and Bindl at the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles spots, respectively, sent everyone home happy.
Said Bindl of having the team result come down to him, “It’s definitely nerve-wracking, kind of exciting at the same time. You just have to continue to play your game and calm yourself down … I love being in that position. It’s a great win for the team.”
Concordia could afford to split the six singles matches after it earned the doubles point. The duo of Rojas and Gregor Lainer won at No. 1, 6-3, and the combo of Jack Kitson and Juan Rabellino took care of business at No. 3, 6-1. Jeremiah Berryman and Zoller competed closely at No. 2 in a 6-4 defeat.
The win guarantees that the Bulldogs will finish no worse than second in the GPAC. The program has never before won a GPAC title. A big challenge awaits next week. Said Bindl, “It feels great. Our hard work at practice is paying off. We were ready for this match and very motivated. I’m just so happy to come out 5-0 and taking on Midland next week.”
The clash with the Warriors (11-5, 4-0 GPAC) will take place next Tuesday (April 27) with first serve at 4 p.m. CT from Fremont, Neb. Midland was the preseason favorite in the GPAC and has been dominant through four conference matches. When these two sides last met in 2019, the Warriors eked out a 5-4 win.