Head coach Sam Nelson’s Bulldog women’s tennis squad advanced to the semifinals of the GPAC Tournament where it was eliminated by second-seeded Morningside, 5-1, on Friday. The Concordia men fell 9-0 early in the day in a quarterfinal match, also against the Mustangs. All matches were single elimination. The men’s matches were held at the Nebraska Tennis Center in Lincoln and the women’s matches took place at the YMCA in Fremont, Neb.
The Bulldog women conclude the season at 12-7 overall while the men finish up at 5-11.
The Concordia women rolled to the semifinals by sweeping all matches in the quarterfinal battle with Mount Marty (4-7). The Bulldogs dominated at the back end of the lineup in singles and pulled out competitive matches at Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Concordia junior Katelyn Koll, who entered play with a record of 5-2 against GPAC opponents, came through in the super tiebreaker to defeat Vanessa Rockne, 1-6, 6-4, 10-3.
The Bulldogs burst out to a 3-0 lead after doubles by winning all three bouts by an identical 8-2 decision. The duo of senior Mikaela Barz and sophomore Liz Kjellsen stayed hot and ran their winning streak to six until having it snapped in the second match on Friday. The two combined for the top doubles mark on the team at 12-7.
“They played well as a team and really encouraged each other,” Nelson said of the doubles groups. “They played well together.”
Morningside then bounced the Bulldogs in the evening quarterfinal by taking two of three doubles matches and by grabbing victories at Nos. 2, 3 and 5 singles to end the match before the other three singles battles could conclude.
Concordia got on the board against Morningside with a 9-7 win at No. 2 doubles by Chelsea Haack and Grace Hollenbeck. The other two doubles matches could have went either way as the Mustangs won both by the score of 8-6.
Koll continued her superb play as she won the first set against Morningside’ Mary Horton prior to the match ending abruptly in the second set when the Mustangs clinched the team victory.
“Katelyn was on track to avenge both of the conference losses she had in the regular season,” Nelson said. “She performed very well today.”
In men’s action, Morningside quickly clinched the match over the Bulldogs by winning the first seven doubles/singles bouts to go final. Concordia picked up its wins at Nos. 4 and 5 singles in matches that were both decided in super tiebreakers.
With Fenton, Mo., native Jonathan Douglas’ 5-7, 6-4, 10-8 victory over Hunter Renn at No. 4, the sophomore finished his season singles record at an even 8-8 – tops on the team. Douglas also teamed with Joe Vanderveld on a 10-6 mark at No. 3 doubles in 2013.
“It was good to see J.D. toughing out his three-set match,” Nelson said. “I thought our work conditioning really paid off. Our guys seemed to hold up better in three-set matches than some other teams might.”
Meanwhile, junior Joel Kaldahl ended the season on a positive note by winning 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 10-7 over Alex Struck in another closely-contested match at the No. 5 position. Kaldahl finished the season with a mark of 4-11 while playing at Nos. 4 and 5.
Nelson, who took over as head coach on March 4, led the women to a record of 9-5 and the men to a mark of 3-9 since rising to the helm of the program. The Lincoln native is excited about what the future holds for Bulldog tennis.
“Hopefully the returning players will continue working on their games throughout the summer,” Nelson said. “I’m excited about working with them and implementing some different strategies after seeing the competition we go up against.”
Nelson also wished graduating players Mikaela Barz, Cole Egger, Joe Vanderveld and Lindsea Vaudt well in their future endeavors.
“It’s been a privilege working with both teams and I want to say good luck to all of our seniors,” Nelson said. “I wish them nothing but the best.”