OMAHA, Neb. – The Bethany College tennis team headed to the ITA Regionals this past weekend. The event included teams from Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas.
The Swede men entered six players into the tournament, including No. 1 seed Manuel Raga, No. 5 seed Michiel Van Den Bogaert, and No. 7 seed Juan Mateus. Raga, Van Den Bogaert, Mateus, Aaron Moses, and Tucker Clary advanced to the third round of the tournament.
"Unfortunately, the way the draws came out in the next two rounds, Bethany players were forced to play each other twice in the draws to eliminate their own teammates, which makes for very difficult matches mentally," Bethany coach Vic Bateman said.
Raga, Van Den Bogaert and Mateus all advanced to the quarterfinals, leading Bethany to have the most players from the same school in the quarterfinals on either the men's or women's side. Van Den Bogaert and Raga both advanced to the semifinals to play each other. Van Den Bogaert defeated Raga in a three-hour battle in which both players battled cramping issues due to the heat.
"Van Den Bogaert advanced to the finals, where he fell in a closely contested match of two very gutty players, who had battled for up to seven hours a day on court the previous two days, with both players fighting off cramping all match," Bateman said. "Michiel had another amazing run to the title match for the second time in three years at the ITA tournament. His level was very high in defeating three straight seeded players and showed what a tough player he can be. He ran out of steam a bit for the final due to being pushed in such a tough semifinal against his teammate, but all credit to (McPherson Colleg’s) Rafael Bulnes in winning the final as he played great tennis in a mentally and physically draining match. Both players pushed each other and forced the other to come up with big shots and big times."
Van Den Bogaert ends his ITA Regional career with a 9-1 singles record, a 5-1 record against seeded players, and one ITA Regional singles title.
In doubles play, Raga/Mateus advanced to the semifinals, falling to a solid duo from Oklahoma Baptist University. Van Den Bogaert/Moses lost in the quarterfinals.
On the women's side, the Swedes were represented by six players: Deiah Curtis, McKenzi Choitz, Kayla Frank, Michelle Rambo, Kittey Edwards and Sophie Cook.
"The play of the freshman highlighted the weekend, with Deiah Curtis winning the ITA back draw with some great play, including an 8-0 final over Bethel College," Bateman said. "Deiah also teamed with McKenzi Choitz to play some great doubles during the tournament, including a great win over a top team from Morningside (IA). Deiah's play was definitely a highlight with the great result she had."
According to Bateman, Frank, Rambo, Edwards and Cook also played well during the tournament.
"I was excited to see the competitive and positive attitudes by our newer girls for the first time in pressure matches and enjoyed watching them compete hard and work to figure out ways to win," Bateman said. "I think our women will just keep getting better during the year, as we work to improve on the things we need to. It was great to see our guys and girls play with great fighting spirits and attitudes all weekend, as we look forward to the spring seasons."
The Swedes finish out their fall season on Saturday at the KCAC Individual Tournament in Winfield.