Singles prowess sends Coe men's tennis back to NCAA tournament

Kohawks down Luther, 5-2, in IIAC tournament final

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CEDAR RAPIDS — With a mighty swipe of his arm, Brady Anderson sent Coe College back the NCAA Division III men’s tennis tournament.

With the No. 1 singles game in a second-set tiebreaker against Luther’s Kyle Appel in the Iowa Conference tournament final, he’d been a little frustrated throughout. He hadn’t been playing badly, per se — the Norse aren’t pushovers and Appel is a solid player — but he knew he could be better.

It was obvious in his mannerisms. In the beginning of the match, Anderson’s demeanor was quite calm, though as he got deeper into the game, the emotions were on full display. Volleys began to end with fist pumps and by the end, the sweat was pouring off both athletes.

Only one team, however, could walk out with a win. Just one player could too.

“It was more relief than anything,” Anderson said. “I really didn’t want it to go to a third set, then it’s anyone’s game.”

Instead of another set, however, the ITA’s third-ranked player in the Central region got his teammates crowded around him and a long drink of water. On the windy and warm day, it was much deserved.

Coe took the match over Luther, 5-2, winning four-straight singles matches to seal its sixth NCAA tournament appearance in a row. The Kohawks dropped two of three doubles matches to start as the No. 1 (Luke Ford and Josh Pudlo) and No. 2 (Anderson and Nate Greiner) both fell to their Norse counterparts.

It obviously wasn’t a situation Coach Eric Rodgers wanted to see his team in to start the match, but all the same, he was impressed with how they battled back.

The first and second singles wins for Coe came at the No. 2 and No. 5 spots, as Nate Ackert and Alex Bernt each took their matches in two sets. James McManus got the fourth point for Coe, winning two tough games, 6-4 and 6-2.

“Luther deserves a lot of kudos for coming out here and giving it to us, winning a couple tight doubles matches,” Rodgers said. “It was good to see our guys respond.”

Some of the sets were tight early and the wind played havoc with the ball throughout the game, creating a challenging environment to play in.

Coe defeated Wartburg 5-0 in the semifinals earlier Saturday.

l Comments: jordan.hansen@thegazette.com

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