FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s efforts to secure a national tournament bid came to an end Saturday as Hastings swept the men’s and women’s Great Plains Athletic Conference Tennis Championships. Hastings won each match 5-1.
The Warriors had advanced to the men’s tournament final with a 5-0 win over Morningside on Friday. That set up a rematch from April 28 when Midland claimed the regular-season title by handing the Broncos their only loss in conference play this season
“We knew going into the championship that Hastings was going to be ready for us this time,” Coach John Steinke said. “We had a really good opportunity to go up 2-1 after the men’s doubles but were unable to execute. In singles, they switched their lineup, so we had new matchups from last week. It was really close, I know the final score was 5-1, but I truly believe this match was going to end up 5-4.”
Dylan Hatanelas and Jack Fryer won at No. 2 doubles for the Warriors’ lone victory on the day.
The Lady Warriors, who received votes in the latest NAIA poll, moved into the championship match with a 5-3 victory over Concordia. That also set up a rematch from April 28 when Midland beat Hastings to claim a portion of the regular-season title.
“Hastings was ready to play us. We were the better team last week; they were the better team this week,” Steinke said. “Our team fought so hard after falling down 1-2 after doubles. This match was very similar to the men’s, this would have more than likely ended up a 5-4 dual.”
Danielle Martin and Carolyn Howton provided Midland’s lone victory in No. 3 doubles. In No. 5 singles, Howton rebounded from being down to match point to taking the lead in the third set. Had she lost the match point, Hastings would be claimed the title then. Instead, it would come later.
Steinke is proud of how the teams performed this season, and already is looking forward to next year.
“Overall this season was one to remember. Two months ago, I didn’t know how we would end up. I believed they could accomplish a lot. Once they started to believe it, I knew we had something special,” he said of the men’s team.
“This team had quite the run. Our last regular season loss was on March 13, and then we lost again on May 5,” he added. “We had a run there where we were playing our best tennis. This team has so much to be proud of. We do not lose any starters from this season. The guys are hungry; Midland will be back.”
Steinke said the Lady Warriors found ways to come from behind to win matches this season.
“Overall, this season was special. On the court, they battled. We had matches where we were down 0-3 and came back to win. We had matches where we were up 3-0 and had to find a way to survive matches 5-4,” he said. “This team went through it all. Off the court, we became a family. At the beginning of the year, we were not a team yet, but we came together and were able to work as one unit. This is a team that I will never forget; I could not be more proud of this group.”
The Warriors finished the season at 14-8 overall and 5-0 in the GPAC. The Lady Warriors were 13-9 overall and 6-1 in the GPAC.