Bulldogs come up short in bid for second-straight GPAC title appearance

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 29, 2022 in Men's Tennis

FREMONT, Neb. – The opportunity to return to the GPAC tournament championship match depended upon beating Doane in the semifinal round on Friday (April 29) night. The Bulldogs came up short of that pursuit while falling at the hands of the Tigers, 4-1, in a match contested inside the YMCA of Fremont, Neb. Earlier in the day, Concordia toppled Northwestern, 4-1, in the GPAC quarterfinals. On the day, Bulldogs combined for four singles and three doubles wins.

That concludes the first year of Cam Long’s tenure as head coach. Concordia went 9-9 overall and placed third in the GPAC regular season standings in 2022.

Said Long, “I was impressed with Northwestern. I know they were motivated to come out and beat us, and they played really well. They played well enough to win, but we were focused on the job that needed to be done. That’s why we were able to win even though they gave us a good fight.

“Against Doane, I think we played well enough to win. When you play a solid team like that it doesn’t always go your way. A couple points here and there and it could have been a totally different match. It’s frustrating, but we showed up for the tournament. It’s not that we didn’t play well.”

In the quarterfinal win over the Red Raiders (9-9), Eduardo Luzzi clinched the team’s advancement when he defeated Brian Vandenberg in three sets, 6-4, 2-6, 6-0, at the No. 1 spot. Prior to that result, Eduardo Rojas won at No. 2 (7-5, 6-0) and Joe Bindl won at No. 3 (6-4, 6-4), putting the Bulldogs in position to claim victory. In doubles, winners were Bindl and Jeremiah Berryman at No. 2 (6-4) and Jack Kitson and Shawn Springer at No. 3 (6-1). Concordia had beaten Northwestern in the regular season, 6-1.

That set up another clash with rival Doane. The two sides also met in the 2021 conference semifinals. This time around, the Tigers got the upper hand in doubles and rode that momentum to victory. Concordia took a 6-1 decision at No. 3 doubles (Kitson and Springer) but came up short at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots. The Tigers then clinched the victory by triumphing in singles at the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 positions. The one team point for the Bulldogs was put up thanks to Kitson’s 7-5, 6-0, win at No. 5 singles.

The singles lineup against Doane also included Luzzi at No. 1, Isaac Howes at No. 2, Springer at No. 3, Rojas at No. 4 and Juan Rabellino at No. 6. Concordia used the exact same doubles pairs in both of Friday’s matches.

This was the swan song for a senior class that included a close-knit crew of Berryman, Bindl, Howes and Kitson. Together they combine for more than 100 career singles wins in duals matches and led the program to the GPAC tournament title match in 2021. The graduation of the seniors will leave a significant void in the lineup as the Bulldogs look ahead to 2022-23.

Said Long, “I just told them at the end that I hope they realize what they’ve done. They’ve all played a big part in a really big role the last four years. They survived coaching changes and still led the program to some of the best teams we’ve ever had. They’re the ones that made it possible. It’s not any one coach or person. Those four worked together and were good leaders. I’m really happy to have crossed paths. As a first-year head coach it really helped to have guys like that to help lead. They made a big difference.”