The Tiger men's tennis team finished up a perfect week on Saturday with a pair wins over Southwestern College and John Brown University. The week started on Monday with wins over John Brown and Oklahoma Wesleyan. The Tigers started off Saturday with a 6-3 win over Southwestern College. CCC won two of the three doubles positions, and four of the six singles spots. Mark Gayer and Ivory Washington won at the #1 doubles position 8-3, and David Armstrong and Gunnar Kelly won at #3 8-3. Gayer continued to play well, winning at the #1 singles position 6-3, 6-4. Dillin Lanting avenged an earlier season loss by winning the #2 spot 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, 10-4. Ivory Washington breezed to win in his match at #3, defeating his opponent 6-2, 6-0. Gunnar Kelly clinched the dual for the Tigers, getting the 5th point at #4 singles 3-6, 6-3, 10-7.
In the second match, the Tigers had to face off against the John Brown University, a team they had defeated in a comeback win on Monday 5-4. They Tigers again won the match 5-4, with the key being the doubles play. On Monday, the Eagles won two of the three double matches and the Tigers had to scramble to win four of the six singles matches. On Saturday, the Tigers took the pressure off of the singles matches by winning two of the three doubles matches. Gayer and Washington struggled just a bit, but managed to eek out the win 8-6. Kelly and Armstrong needed a tiebreaker to get the second point for the Tigers 9-8 (7-5). Thanks to the doubles, the Tigers had a little more breathing room, but even with that breathing room, things remained tense throughout the singles matches. Mark Gayer was pushed at #1 single but came through in a third set tie breaker winning 6-1, 4-6, 10-7. Ivory Washington played #2 in this dual and defeated his opponent 6-0, 6-4. Again, the dual came down to Gunnar Kelly's match. Gunnar won a tight first set 6-4, but breezed in the second set 6-1, to clinch the dual.
Coach Nelson commented, "I was extremely pleased with the way we battled to day. The guys knew what was at stake, and they met the challenge head on and responded like champions." What was at stake was a second consecutive bid to the NCCAA national tournament in Mobile, AL. "I told the guys in the middle of the week that if we were .500 after the weekend we might get the bid, but being 7-5 would go a long way to leave no doubt, and they came through."
Coach Nelson got the call on Saturday from the NCCAA national tennis chair that they had indeed secured a spot in the final eight teams selected for the tournament. The Tiger men have one more regular season match this Thursday against Southwestern Christian at home as a tune up for the national tournament. The match will be played at the fire station tennis courts at 2:30 pm.