INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Earlham took care of business on Sunday as the Quakers won their second consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. With a 5-2 victory against Transylvania at the West Indy Racquet Club, the Quakers earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“I’m really excited that we were able to accomplish the goal that we set at the beginning of the season,” Earlham head coach Adam Van Zee said. “The guys worked really hard for this and it is an exciting time for us.”
Achieving the team’s ultimate goal wasn’t easy for the Quakers, who trailed the Pioneers (11-6) after the doubles action. Earlham beat Transylvania 9-0 last month to clinch the HCAC regular-season title, but the Pioneers were ready for the challenge on Sunday.
“We were down 2-1 after doubles and the guys had to fight from behind,” Van Zee said. “Luckily, we came back through singles and were able to do what we needed to do to be able to win.”
The next step for the Quakers, who have won a school-record 16 matches in a row, is the NCAA tournament that begins on Friday. The field is expected to be announced on Monday.
“Hopefully, we get a pretty good draw,” Van Zee said. “We don’t know where we are headed, but hopefully, we will ready for another week of practice.”
On Sunday, Andrey Gavrilov and Brad Maisey teamed up to defeat Tyler Pewitt and Jett Glass 8-2 for Earlham’s victory in doubles at No. 2.
After a brief chat with Van Zee before the singles competition, the Quakers resumed the match knowing they needed four wins in six contests to take the title.
As the intensity level of the match increased, the Quakers were able to respond to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Gavrilov posted the first singles win with a 6-0, 6-0 decision against Pewitt at No. 3.
Maisey followed a few minutes later with a 6-1, 6-0 win against Jordan Evans at No. 4.
At No. 5, Scott Lawrence took care of Glass 6-1, 6-2.
The contest that sealed the victory was at No. 6 as David Bluestein beat Kim Pescher 6-0, 6-3.
The Quakers are now 19-1 overall, which gives them the most wins and best record in school history during the NCAA era. The 2002-03 team had 18 wins. They have also won 20 straight contests against HCAC teams since joining the league last year.