MTen: Warriors eliminate Biola from GSAC tourney

INDIAN WELLS – The Westmont men’s tennis team started the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament off strong this afternoon with a First Round 5-2 win over Biola University. With the perfect stage set at the beautiful Indian Wells Tennis Complex, the Warrior men fought their way to victory.

“We played Biola last Saturday and even though we beat them 8-1, I thought we played really fundamental, consistent tennis all of that day,” opened head coach Mark Basham. “I was a bit worried about today’s match, knowing that we have some injuries and men who are not 100 percent. I was confident in our talent, but I knew that we would have to execute well today.”

If injuries were an issue, you would not have noticed them this afternoon. Other than a couple of underhand (yet surprisingly tough) serves from Josh Barnard – who has been sidelined off and on all season due to injury – there was no blatant sign of physical struggle.

The men played at a high level and fought for each win of the day. In the first doubles position was Carl-Philip Lindqvist and Joshua Barnard who have proven to be the most dynamic of the duos. Their 8-3 victory over their Eagle opponents truly set the tone for the rest of the day.

On doubles court number three, Jan Sibbel and Travis Smelley had one of the more difficult match ups of the morning against David Garcia and Joe Turnquist. While they went back and forth for a bit, the Eagles walked away with a final score of 8-3 over the Warriors.

Christian Mathis and Travis Kimsey occupied court number two for a mental battle against Luke Mountain and Phillip Westwood. While tennis is very physically challenging, the mental side of the game comes out in hard situations. The Warrior duo found a rhythm early on and was able to get into a groove of playing together. Just as it seemed like they were going to solidify a win, Biola’s men rallied back and started to put up a hard fight. This flustered and frustrated the Warriors, which made the game arguably more mental than it was physical. Thankfully, they were able to work their way out of it together and end with a final 8-6 win, putting Westmont up 2-1 going into singles play.

“I am super thrilled about number one doubles with Barnard and Lindqvist. They were steady and great together,” remarked Basham. “The number two doubles (Mathis/Kimsey) was really important for us to win and they pulled it out 8-6. We were up two points, feeling confident and I thought we pretty much had that match won. But then Biola turned the momentum around and our guys got a little tight. It was great for us to work our way out of that one. On court three, Jan and Travis had a very tough match up. Their opponents are quite solid and we knew it would be hard.”

A lead going into singles play is always a plus, and the Westmont men used it to capitalize on their opportunities. On court number one, Lindqvist played some of the best tennis he has played all year. He handily won the first set with a 6-0 sweep and then went to work in the second with a long 6-3 win to give him the final victory. While always a fierce competitor, there was an obvious desire in today’s play that propelled him forward and made him better every step of the way. This match turned out to be the one that solidified the Warriors fifth team point, officially winning the whole match.

Court number two was occupied by the lone Warrior senior, Josh Barnard. His opponent, Phillip Westwood, had no answer for Barnard’s tenacity. Despite an occasional underhand serve, Joshua won his first set 6-0, followed by a final 7-5 win to close it out. “I am so proud of the way that Josh gutted his match out. The second set was so key for us and the competition was high for him,” exclaimed Basham.

On court five, Travis Kimsey was one of the first courts to finished and he locked in a 6-1, 6-2 win over Turnquist. Right next to him on court six, Travis Smelley was defeated 6-3, 6-2 early on by David Garcia.

Since Carl clinched the fifth and final team point needed to win the match, two sets were left unfinished. On court number three, Jan Sibbel was well on his way to victory with scores of 6-2, 4-3. Next to him on court four, Christian Mathis was fighting with Luke Mountain who was leading 6-3, 3-3.

“Today was good. This was a big win for us confidence wise as we progress and head into more post season play,” closed out Basham.

The Warriors will live to see another day as they take the court tomorrow April 16 at 9:00am for a semifinal match against #3 Vanguard who is 23-0 overall and 12-0 in GSAC play.