Oles blown out against Carleton, drop to 1-8

The men’s tennis team hasn’t been the most dominant team on campus this year. A relatively young team as a result of being fleeced by graduation last spring, the Oles carried tempered expectations heading into 2017. The Manitou Messenger predicted a developmental season rather than a competitive one in our spring sports preview. Unfortunately, that lackluster forecast has proven accurate.

Overall, the Ole men are 1-8 this season, with their only win being a 5-4 victory over Concordia on April 9. Early matches remained competitive, with St. Olaf dropping three consecutive 4-5 nailbiter contests against Hamline, Luther and St. Thomas, which indicates that their lopsided record doesn’t tell the whole story. A couple of favorable bounces here and there and the Oles could have been hovering around a .500 winning percentage – the poor win-loss ratio is partly due to a lack of depth and some bad luck. Considering the relative inexperience of most of the team, this could even be viewed as an accomplishment – at minimum, it’s great experience that points to a positive future, perhaps the beginnings of an eventual contender.

As for 2017, however, St. Olaf’s season is looking like a wash. They had a chance for some redemption against conference-leader Carleton – to win would be a miraculous upset and a satisfying victory against the school’s longest rival, a silver lining to take away from an otherwise unfortunate spring. However, it was not to be.

The team struggled once again in its matchup against Carleton during Easter break, falling to the Knights in an 8-1 beatdown. Christian Beck ’18 picked up the only Ole victory, defeating Carleton’s Kevin Mei 6-3, 6-1 in the number one singles match. Danny Hogan ’18 battled on the number two singles line, taking the first set in a tiebreak off of Carleton’s Ezra Frankel, but Frankel ultimately proved too difficult to topple, snatching the final two sets. The other Oles struggled in the remainder of the matches, failing to capture a set outside of the top two singles contests. Carleton swept St. Olaf in all three doubles competitions.

The Oles will continue to try to salvage their season against Bethel University this weekend before closing the season against North Dakota, Macalester College and St. John’s University. The team will only lose two seniors to graduation, which means the exceptionally young team now possesses valuable experience against a brutal MIAC conference. Beck and Hogan, by far St. Olaf’s most accomplished doubles team and certainly the most consistent singles players, will return along with eight others next spring, hopefully with high expectations after undergoing this developmental season. They certainly have all the motivation in the world following a dismal 2017 in which they’re very likely to finish last in the conference.