Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Another sweep elevates the Warhawks

Luke VanDonslear goes for a backhand return during his doubles match against Stevens Point in 2023.
John Hynst
Luke VanDonslear goes for a backhand return during his doubles match against Stevens Point in 2023.

In their second WIAC matchup of the season, the No. 12 UW-Whitewater men’s tennis team defeated UW-Eau Claire in a 9-0 sweep April 13. The sweep marks their second straight 9-0 win and their third in the last four matches, the only non-sweep coming against UW-Stevens Point in their first WIAC match since 1995.

“[The win] shows our depth no matter the conditions, what lineup we place, no matter who’s in there, the guys have been cheering for each other and getting the job done,” head coach Frank Barnes said.

The Warhawks kicked off Saturday’s action with seniors Luke VanDonslear and Reuben Giorgio winning their doubles match 8-3, setting a tone of domination for the rest of the day. They started on a 5-0 run before trading games with their opponents, holding their ground to be the first duo to eight wins.

“We both got some different game styles,” VanDonslear said. “We always find a way to complement one another, and we just hype each other up. We work really well together.”

The doubles success continued with freshman Theo Billson and junior Drew Van Fossen winning their match 8-1, only dropping the third game of the set. Sophomores Tyler Nelson and Giovanni Vitali concluded the doubles matches with an 8-6 victory of their own.

As for the singles, the Warhawks continued their domination of the Blugolds, winning every single match. Action began with VanDonslear controlling a match against UW-Eau Claire’s Hunter Roseth, winning 6-0 6-2.

“It was really windy, so it was tough,” VanDonslear said. “I played super consistent, played a lot of balls, and found a way.”

Giorgio and Nelson gave the Warhawks two more points in their singles matches, only surrendering five games combined. Both athletes put together a long rally at one point, with Giorgio winning both of his sets 6-1, and Nelson winning his first set 6-3 before sweeping his opponent 6-0 in the second set.

“[The depth] is great for the upcoming future,” Barnes said. “We’re always trying to make sure we’re building depth and developing players so when we do have people graduate, those younger players are ready to step up.”

Vitali and Van Fossen also added victories in the singles session. Vitali had the longest rally of any Warhawk, winning 10 straight games en route to a 6-0 6-2 victory, and Van Fossen gradually grinded out his win, with his match score ending at 6-2 6-3.

Billson, the only freshman who competed in Saturday’s games, closed out the day by also winning his match by a score of 6-2 6-3. He was the only Warhawk to see a deficit in singles action, but he recovered and won his twelfth-straight singles match.

“When I went down like that, I focused more on the game plan,” Billson said. “I like to give myself lots of energy, stay focused at every point, take my time and really stick to the plan.”

With the sweep, the Warhawks now sit at 15-1 in the spring, with their only loss being to No. 8 Washington University in St. Louis. Going into the match, the Warhawks ranked No. 12 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III rankings, a two-spot decrease from their record-breaking No. 10 ranking the week prior. Despite the decline, they took care of business.

“Especially as a team, we have some great chemistry,” Billson said. “We’ve faced some very strong teams and some not so strong teams, but we still give it 100% and take every match as seriously as the other.”

The Warhawks are back in action April 19, as they continue WIAC play against UW-La Crosse. Afterwards, they close the regular season with two non-conference matches against No. 3 University of Chicago (April 20) and Kalamazoo College (April 28).

“One thing I need to warn [the team] of this week is not to look beyond [La Crosse],” Barnes said. “Winning a conference western title is that first goal.”

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About the Contributors
Chase Keller
Chase Keller, Assistant Women's Sports Editor
John Hynst
John Hynst, Business Manager

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