Kirby Ronning

Strong Doubles Play Not Enough for Bethel in 6-3 Loss to St. Olaf

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LAKEVILLE, Minn. – The Bethel University men's tennis team saw their season come to a disappointing end Wednesday night at the hands of the St. Olaf College Ole's, 6-3 in the first round of the MIAC Playoffs. The Royals took a 2-1 lead after doubles but could not maintain that momentum in singles play, losing five of the six matches.

"It's hard to come up with the right words with the level of disappointment that we all have," said Bethel head coach Drew Fernelius. "We really had a shot, but it wasn't due to lack of effort. Everyone gave it all they had, we just didn't play our best singles today which is really disappointing, especially after being up 2-1 after doubles."

The Royals took their 2-1 doubles lead thanks to a big comeback at No. 2 doubles by Kirby Ronning and Kolin Kiekhoefer. After falling behind 7-3, Ronning and Kiekhoefer came all the way back to win 9-7. The No. 3 doubles team of Steve Schull and Brett Lizotte won 8-4. Bethel very nearly came away with the doubles sweep, however as No. 1 doubles team of Matt Schull and Luke Palmquist held a 6-5 lead but could not finish it off, falling 9-8 (7-1).

The lone highlight in singles play for Bethel was freshman Matt Schull's dominate victory at No. 1 singles, 6-1, 6-0. In the regular season matchup back on February 15th, Schull lost to the same opponent 6-3, 6-0 but showed tremendous improvement in the convincing victory Wednesday. Schull finished the season with a 15-5 record at No. 1 singles in his first collegiate season. Unfortunately for the Royals the other five singles matches went to the Oles, all but one in straight sets. Luke Palmquist at No. 4 singles lost in a tie-break, 6-4, 5-7 (10-8) after the outcome of the match had already been determined.

"If you would have told me that we were up 2-1 after doubles and Matt Schull won I would say we win the match nine out of ten times," coach Fernelius said. "We just didn't have it tonight though at 2-6."

The Royals season comes to a close with a 5-5 record in MIAC competition and 9-11 overall. Bethel's fifth place finish was a two spot improvement from the preseason coaches' poll where they were picked seventh. Bethel will have to replace a trio of seniors in Kirby Ronning, Steve Schull and Jared Wall.
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