Preview: 2022 GPAC Men's Tennis Tournament

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 26, 2022 in Men's Tennis

SEWARD, Neb. – The slate gets wiped clean on Friday when the 2022 GPAC tournament gets underway from the Fremont, Neb., YMCA. As the No. 3 seed, the Concordia University Men’s Tennis team will take on sixth-seeded Northwestern at 1:30 p.m. CT in Friday’s quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs will attempt to get back to the conference championship match after playing in the 2021 GPAC final. Head Coach Cam Long’s squad wrapped up the regular season with an overall record of 8-8 (4-2 GPAC). An automatic bid to nationals will be rewarded to the GPAC tournament champion.

GPAC Pairings

NOTE: The conference tournament location was moved indoors to the Fremont YMCA due to projected rain this weekend.

Friday, April 29 – Quarterfinals
(4) Morningside vs. (5) Hastings, 11 a.m.
(3) Concordia vs. (6) Northwestern, 1:30 p.m.

Friday, April 29 – Semifinals
(1) Midland vs. 4/5 winner, 4 p.m.
(2) Doane vs. 3/6 winner, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 30 – Championship
1:30 p.m.

By the numbers

·        The regular season concluded last week as the Bulldogs routed former GPAC rival Nebraska Wesleyan University, 7-0, on April 20 and then fell at Doane, 5-2, in the completion of a match that had started on April 12 (suspended due to severe weather). After honoring four seniors prior to the start of the Nebraska Wesleyan match, Concordia swept through doubles and singles play. Seniors Jeremiah Berryman, Joe Bindl, Isaac Howes and Jack Kitson all contributed in the victory. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs slipped up at Doane with the GPAC’s No. 2 seed on the line. Concordia had twice beaten the Tigers in 2021.

·        That senior class has made a considerable impact on the program. The quartet has combined for 106 career singles wins in dual matches. Howes leads the group with 35 career wins while followed by Berryman (31), Bindl (23) and Kitson (17). From a team perspective, the Bulldogs have gone a combined 34-28 overall and 12-6 in GPAC matches since the start of the 2019 season. They helped take the program to unchartered waters last spring when Concordia made its first-ever appearance in the GPAC tournament championship match.

·        During the 2022 regular season, the Bulldogs earned GPAC wins over Morningside, 4-3, Mount Marty, 6-1, Northwestern, 6-1, and Hastings, 5-2. The two conference losses came at the hands of Doane, 5-2, and Midland, 7-0. Dating back to the start of last season, Concordia has gone a combined 9-3 in conference regular season matches. The Warriors have been responsible for two of those three defeats.

·        The 2021 Bulldogs made program history in reaching the GPAC tournament final. They got there thanks to a bye in the quarterfinals and then a 4-2 semifinal win over Doane. During the GPAC era (2000-present), Concordia has advanced to at least the semifinal round a total of nine times. One of the squads to accomplish that feat was the 2010 squad that went 14-6 overall and owns the program record for most wins in a season. The program has notched 10 or more overall victories seven times during the GPAC era.

·        Collectively, the Bulldogs have gone a combined 30-18 in doubles and 50-46 in singles matches this season. Six Concordia players have collected at least five singles wins: Isaac Howes (8-8), Joe Bindl (7-8), Shawn Springer (7-7), Manuel Rodriguez (6-0), Juan Rabellino (5-4) and Eduardo Rojas (5-7). The most successful doubles combo has been Luzzi and Rabellino, who have gone 7-3 as partners.

·        A potential return to the GPAC tournament final will first have to go through Northwestern in the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs had their way with the Red Raiders when the two sides met in Seward on April 2. The result was a 6-1 decision in Concordia’s favor. The Bulldogs won every match with the exception of No. 4 singles. Should Concordia get past Northwestern, it would set up a matchup with Doane. The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers in the 2021 semifinals.

NAIA National Championships

The 2022 NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championships will run May 17-21 at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala. More details on the national tournament can be found HERE.