The University of Denver men’s tennis team finished its season with a 12-11 overall record, touting a 5-0 record in Summit League Play and collecting both the regular season and conference championship titles.
The No. 1 seed team made it a dual championship season as it battled to a 4-1 victory over No. 3 seed Fort Wayne in the 2014 Summit League Tournament Final on April 27 at Colorado Athletic Club Monaco. Because of the win, DU men’s tennis received an automatic berth to the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship.
Denver men’s tennis advanced to the conference championship game for the second straight season and the third time since 2008. This is DU’s second consecutive league title after a 4-0 win over Idaho at the 2013 Western Athletic Conference Championships.
Denver battled through two matches to claim the doubles point. Freshman duo Eric Marbach and Yannik James took the first win, defeating Connor Andrews and Karl Wangensten-Oye 8-4 in the No. 3 spot. The No. 58-ranked pair of Henry Craig and Alex Gasson clinched the doubles point for DU, beating Daniel Kang and Andres Cobos 8-6 in the No. 1 spot.
Diogo Rocha bettered Jonathan Raa 6-0, 6-0 in the No. 2 spot to garner the first singles win. After Rocha’s quick win, Denver lost some momentum. Gasson got the Pioneers back on track, fighting to a 6-3, 7-6 victory over Cobos in the No. 3 spot. In a thrilling title-clincher, senior Alex Clinkenbeard defeated Gerard Guell 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 in the No. 3 spot.
The Pioneers dropped a 4-0 decision in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament against No. 14 seed Kentucky on May 9 in Lexington, Ky.
The Pioneers fought through three close doubles matches. Despite holding their competition to only two points, No. 67 duo Craig and Gasson fell to No. 31 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai 8-6 in the No. 1 spot. No. 79 Pioneer pair Rocha and Biasion got momentum back on Denver’s side, defeating Beck Pennington and Alejandro Gomez 8-7(5) in the No. 2 spot. Ultimately, Marbach and James were bettered by Ryuji Hirooka and Nils Ellefsen 8-6 in the No. 3 spot.
Singles ended quickly as Kentucky took the No. 1, 2 and 3 spots in straight sets. Beck Pennington clinched the match for the Wildcats after beating Gasson 6-3, 6-4 in the No. 3 position.
The season continued for Denver men’s tennis as the team sent Craig and Gasson to the singles and doubles portions of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championships.
Craig, who entered his singles match ranked No. 106 nationally in singles, gave No. 53-ranked Harris all he could handle in the opening two sets, posting the dominating 6-0 victory in the opener and pushing the second to an extra game, before eventually seeing it claimed by Harris (7-5) to knot things at 1-1. Harris kept the momentum from the second-set victory by opening up a 2-0 lead in the decisive third set before settling for the 6-3 final to seal the match.
The No. 67-ranked Craig and Gasson then paired up to upset Texas A&M’s No. 6 nationally ranked doubles tandem of Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Doubles Championship on May 22 at the University of Georgia. The Denver duo wasted no time setting the tone of the match as they raced out to a 6-3 first set win before rallying after an early deficit to seal the victory with the 7-5 result in the second.
The Pioneer duo continued their hot play in the round of 16 with an early 6-4 triumph in the opening frame, but were unable the hang on against the nation’s 16th ranked doubles tandem. Craig and Gasson dropped the following two sets by identical 6-3 margins as they lost to Texas’ tandem of Lloyd Glasspool and Søren Hess-Olesen.
The men’s tennis squad had six players selected to the All-Summit League Team, including Clinkenbeard, Craig, Gasson, James, Rocha and Talcott. Each of these Pioneers went undefeated in league singles play and were the only players on the list to do so. Clinkenbeard and Craig were also named to The Summit League Tennis Academic All-League Teams.
After posting a 5-0 record in Summit League play and being named conference Player of the Week on three occasions, Rocha was honored as the Summit League Newcomer of the Year.
The No. 106-ranked Craig, who also had a perfect record in conference play and claimed league Player of the Week three times, was named the 2014 Summit League Player of the Year and Division I men’s tennis Player to Watch in the Mountain Region.
The men’s tennis team will lose two senior captains in Clinkenbeard and Biasion and will look to Craig to step up as a leader next season. Head coach Danny Westerman and first-year assistant coach Jeremy Feldman guided the Pioneers through a successful 2013–14 season and will look to continue this momentum through next year.