Men’s tennis falls to conference rival Westminster, rebounds to defeat Concordia Seminary

Webster University junior Dustin Thode hits a forehand during his doubles match against Concordia Seminary on March 27 at the Webster Groves Tennis Center. Thode won both his matches, helping the Gorloks to an 8-1 win. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS.

The Webster University men’s tennis team dropped its conference road match to Westminster College, 6-3, on March 22 in Columbia, Mo. Though they were defeated, it was the closest the Gorloks have come to knocking off the Blue Jays in recent years. In the conference championship last spring, Webster fell to Westminster 5-0.

From 2002 to 2011, Westminster defeated Webster with an aggregate score of 69-7, as the smallest margin of defeat was five points in four different seasons. In that span, Westminster went 10-0 against Webster. The Blue Jays earned their 11th straight win against the Gorloks on March 22.

Despite another loss to Westminster, junior Ricky Eaves said Webster is improving against the Blue Jays.

“Each time we play them, we’re getting a little bit better,” Eaves said. “That’s a good sign.”

Eaves and junior Josh Sellmeyer were the only Gorloks to earn victories against Westminster, playing at 3 and 4 singles, respectively. The two also paired up to give Webster its only doubles win of the evening.

Siener said he knew it was going to be a difficult match going in.

“I thought we performed pretty well,” Siener said. “We lost, but I think everybody was pleased with how we played, even if we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”

Despite the losses to the Blue Jays in recent seasons, Siener feels the team has improved. But it will still be a challenge the next time the two teams face off.

“Every year we’ve made a few steps to try to close the gap,” Siener said. “They’re a pretty deep team. I don’t think we have to play out of our heads by any means, but we’re going to have to play a little better.”

Eaves said it will be important for the team to work on its doubles play and focus when playing singles matches to get the Gorloks back to their winning ways.

“We need to work together as a unit,” Eaves said. “We need to focus, work hard, support each other and try to come out with a win.”

Webster did bounce back with an 8-1 victory over Concordia Seminary on March 27 at the Webster Groves Tennis Center to improve to 9-2 overall (1-1 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) on the year.

Webster swept doubles play with the duos of junior Diego Alarcon and Eaves (No. 1), freshmen Josh Papes and Zachary Selby (No. 2), and Sellmeyer and junior Dustin Thode (No. 3).

The Gorloks won five of six singles matches to complete their victory over the Preachers. Alarcon (No. 1), Sellmeyer (No. 3), Papes (No. 4), junior Wakeel Rahman (No. 5) and Thode (No. 6) each earned victories on the evening.

Webster heads to Eureka, Ill., next to play a postponed match against SLIAC foe Eureka College on March 31 at 2 p.m.

Whether or not Webster and Westminster face each other again this season, Siener said his team needs to stay focused as the Gorloks hit the home stretch.

“You want to be playing your best tennis at the end there,” Siener said. “Hopefully by that last weekend, we’re peaking at the right time.”

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