April 23, 2011
Contact: Greg Murphy
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The four-peat is complete for the Cleveland State men's tennis team.
The Vikings used a strong effort in doubles to get the point and then won three singles matches to win the 2011 Horizon League Championship over second-seeded Green Bay, 4-1, on Saturday afternoon at North Central H.S.
The title is the fourth straight for the Vikings and clinches the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship for CSU.
"What a day for the Cleveland State men's tennis program," head coach Brian Etzkin said. "People ask if winning championships is the same and I have to say it isn't. Each and every title we have won has been special in its own regard. We lost two outstanding seniors from last year's team and really had to shuffle around the lineup a bit this year to get where we are at. And it has been such a joy to watch this group of young men mature and grow as the season has progressed.
"We played a very difficult early season schedule, but I did that for a reason. I wanted out guys to play against the best competition possible to get ready for the league season and this moment. This team was challenged all season long, playing several close matches and I felt coming in that we were well prepared to win another championship."
The Vikings stormed out to a 1-0 lead by winning the doubles points with convincing wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles.
The No. 2 doubles team of Yannick Goossens and Chris Klepatz cruised to an 8-2 win, while the top doubles team of Rob Fox and John Haley earned an 8-3 win, extending their school record of wins in a season to 28.
"I thought getting the doubles point the way we did today was huge," Etzkin said. "When we played them earlier in the year, they got the doubles point against us and we had to rally to win four of the six singles matches. I thought getting the point today allowed our guys to relax and play singles with a lot of confidence."
Green Bay's Christoph Hopfe tied the match at 1-1 with a win at No. 4 singles, but the Vikings took the next three matches to earn the win and title.
Freshman Matt Kuelker gave CSU a 2-0 lead with a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 3 singles, his 22nd win of the season.
"Matt has had an outstanding freshman season," Etzkin said. "We've asked him to do a lot for us near the top of the lineup and he has responded all year long."
Senior John Haley tallied his team-leading 23rd victory of the year with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win at No. 5 singles to give the Vikings a 3-1 lead and freshman Matt Ford clinched the title with a 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 6 singles.
"It was great to see Matt get the clinching point for us today," Etzkin said. "He has worked extremely hard as a freshman and to clinch the title is a great way for him to cap this year.
"Both Matt and John had to battle back from losing sets, but that has been the mindset of this team this year. These guys are so well conditioned that they are able to get stronger as the match goes on."
The Vikings will now await word on where they will be sent for the NCAA Championship. Three years ago, the Vikings played a first round match at Ohio State. CSU has played at Kentucky in the first round in each of the last two years.
The first and second rounds are slated for May 13-14 at campus sites, with the selection show slated for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday (May 3) live on NCAA.com.
(1) Cleveland State 4, (2) Green Bay 1
Horizon League Men's Tennis Championship | Indianapolis (North Central H.S.)
No. 1 - Rob Fox/John Haley (CSU) def. Fabian Gogolin/Christoph Hopfe (GB) 8-3
No. 2 - Yannick Goossens/Chris Klepatz (CSU) def. Erik Finkenbrink/Josh Oothoudt (GB) 8-2
No. 3 - Matt Kuelker/Matt Ford (CSU) vs. Craig Cox/Paul Swanson (GB) 3-6 DNF
Order of finish: 2-1
No. 1 - Yannick Goossens (CSU) vs. Erik Finkenbrink (GB) 6-3, 5-7, 2-2 DNF
No. 2 - Rob Fox (CSU) vs. Craig Cox (GB) 4-6, 7-5, 5-4 DNF
No. 3 - Matt Kuelker (CSU) def. Paul Swanson (GB) 6-3, 6-3
No. 4 - Christoph Hopfe (GB) def. Chris Klepatz (CSU) 6-0, 6-1
No. 5 - John Haley (CSU) def. Fabian Gogolin (GB) 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
No. 6 - Matt Ford (CSU) def. Henning Jess (GB) 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-1
Order of finish: 4-3-5-6