While a first-singles player usually draws the most attention in college tennis, for the Bethel College men Thursday, it came down to the sixth-singles player to decide a 5-4 win over Concordia (Neb.) at the Marty Ward Tennis Court.
Freshman Jordan Singh, a Newton High grad, won the deciding match for the men over Joshua Miller 6-1, 7-6 (7-2), 10-4 (super tie-breaker).
The Bethel women claimed a 6-3 win over the visiting Bulldogs.
The match was the home opener for the Threshers and the first home match with the new clubhouse facility, which will have its formal dedication April 4.
Singh led 3-0 in the second set, but Miller held off three match points and won the tie-breaker to force the super-breaker.
“I was probably thinking about the end of the match too much and my level dropped, while his level was raised a lot,” Singh said. “I just didn’t make the right adjustments at the right time. He was able to win that second set. Once we reached that super-breaker, I was confident. It was reset and I acted like it was 0-0 and I was able to resume my higher level.”
Singh said he realized early on he was playing the deciding match of the meet.
“I looked over at Zachary (Shima) and his match was over, then I realized it was up to me,” Singh said. “I was like alright, since I’m playing at number six, I’ll be in that 4-4 scenario. So, in our first home meet, I’m in that scenario. It’s nice to get it out of the way, so for future matches, I won’t be as nervous.”
In the spring season, Singh is 4-0 in singles and 6-1 in doubles. He played 11th at Class 5A state in doubles.
“I like it a little more than high school,” Singh said. “You get to play both singles and doubles. My last three years (in high school), I played mostly doubles. Shawn Bontrager played at Newton as well, so it’s nice to have another Newton player on the team. I’d like to win every chance I have and continue to improve in both singles and doubles.”
“What a performance to win the tie-breaker,” Bethel coach Richard Southern said. “He had the big lead. That guy lifted his level big time. I don’t think Jordan dropped his. But when it gets tighter, you feel that. Everyone is cheering the match. After losing three match points, to come back shows how much composure he has as a freshman. He also had a huge win at doubles. They played their number one player at two doubles. We won 8-5, which was probably our best performance at doubles this year at that position.”
Bethel won two of three doubles matches — Gabe Johnson and Singh at second doubles and Zachary Shima and Shawn Bontrager at third doubles.
Ryan LaCombe and Shima added wins at third and fifth singles respectively.
For the women, the Threshers won two of the three doubles matches (Kimberly Buzbee and Brianna Rogers at second doubles and Erica Ebenkamp and Samantha Koch at third doubles) and four of six singles matches (Jennifer Harrison at second singles, Buzbee at third singles, Mallory Meier at fifth singles and Ebenkamp at sixth singles). Meier missed several match-points in a super-breaker, but still to win it 12-10.
“The final score for the women was a little deceptive,” Southern said. “We could have definitely lost that one. They beat a team 5-4 that we lost to 5-4. We played well today. It’s nice to win 6-3, when it could have gone 6-3 for them. That’s seven in a row for the women and that puts them above last season’s win total.”
The Bethel women are 7-1, while the men are 6-1. Both Concordia teams are 5-5. Both Bethel teams have already exceeded last year’s win totals. Both teams are off to their best start since 2015.
Bethel hosts two matches that won’t count on their record — Monday against Hesston College and March 15 against NCAA Division II Colorado Christian. Bethel opens KCAC play Match 27 at home against Oklahoma Wesleyan.
“We have a good group of freshmen and a good group of seniors, so we have a good mix,” Southern said. “I hope we can finish strong before the start of the conference schedule.”
The formal dedication for the new clubhouse is April 4 against Southwestern. That date also is Alumni Day. The new clubhouse includes restrooms, an office, a meeting room/lounge area, a concession stand and a climate-controlled storage area.
“It’s going to be great to listen to all the coaches say how jealous they are about our new facilities,” Southern said. “It’s not even close. We have the best facilities in the KCAC. We’re the only team in the KCAC that plays on campus. This facility is top-notch in the state of Kansas. If we had more courts, we’d be able to hold state tournaments. … Our alumni base is so supportive and we have a rich history of tennis here. I feel fortunate to be in the situation I’m in and look forward for this program to take a step forward.”
SINGLES — Annie Horn C def. Rachel Herzog B 6-3, 6-1; Jennifer Harrison B def. Allison Marshall C 6-2, 6-3; Kimberly Buzbee B def. Katelinn Wurm C 6-2, 6-1; Claudia Miranda C def. Serena Wong B 6-1, 6-3; Mallory Meier B def. Kirsten Wagner C 6-3, 4-6, 12-10; Erica Ebenkamp B def. Kayla Smock C 6-2, 6-3.
SINGLES — Annie Horn-Kirsten Wagner C def. Rachel Herzog-Jennifer Harrison B 8-3; Kimberly Buzbee-Breanne Rogers B def. Claudia Miranda-Katelinn Wurm C 8-4; Erica Ebenkamp-Samantha Koch B def. Kayla Smock-Allison Marshall C 9-7.
SINGLES — Thomas Greaf C def. Dylan Miera B 6-3, 6-0; Luke Zoller C def. Gabe Johnson B 6-7 (8-6), 6-4, 12-10; Ryan LaCombe B def. Gio De Moraes C 7-5, 6-1; Jeremy Berryman C def. Tyler Shima B 6-0, 6-3; Zachary Shima B def. Conner Wortes C 6-2, 6-1; Jordan Singh B def. Joshua Miller C 6-1, 6-7 (7-2), 10-4.
SINGLES — Luke Zoller-Jeremy Berryman C def. Dylan Miera-Ryan LaCombe B 9-7; Gabe Johnson-Jordan Singh B def. Thomas Greaf-Conner Wortes C 8-5; Zachary Shima-Shawn Bontrager B def. Joshua Miller-Gio De Moraes C 9-8 (7-2).