The Bethel College men’s tennis team claimed its first win of the season, edging rival Central Christian College 6-3 Thursday at the Marty Ward Tennis Center in North Newton.
The win also was the first for the men under first-year head coach Richard Southern.
“We knew today was a good opportunity to get our first win,” Southern said. “It was definitely a tough opponent and definitely a losable match. There’s not a spot where we were guaranteed a win. The guys played really well for the win. … This was big win for the guys. I coached there, so I really wanted to win this.”
The Threshers won two of the three doubles matches with both wins coming by narrow margins. Former Abilene High School teammates Gabe Johnson and Ryan LaCombe topped Carlos Padilla and Andres Padilla by tie breaker. Tyler Shima and Preston Gasper edged Zach Bueford and J.D. Williams 9-7.
Bethel won four of the six singles matches with Johnson, Shima, Grant Bellar and Newton High grad Shawn Bontrager all winning in straight sets.
After winning the doubles tie-breaker at first doubles, Johnson got little rest for his singles match. He fell behind early in both sets, but rallied for the match.
“It took me a little time to get my legs under me in the singles match,” Johnson said. “I was able to refocus and find some energy.”
Johnson said he and LaCombe didn’t play doubles together in high school. Johnson is a sophomore this season, while LaCombe is a freshman.
“I played at a summer tournament here when I was a junior in high school,” Johnson said, “It was always on the radar after that. I’d like to keep improving, win a couple more matches. I’d like for the team finish in the top four and get to the conference tournament. It feels really good to go into the break on a high note. We’ve played a lot of quality teams. We played a quality team today, so it was nice to get a win. A lot of us were able to pick up our first wins of the season.”
“Gabe Johnson played his best matches of the season,” Southern said. “He picked up two really nice wins at number one doubles and number one singles.”
Bethel is 1-4 this season and hosts Friends at 3 p.m. March 30 to open conference play.
“We get some time off before our next match,” Southern said. “We’re looking to get off to a good start in conference play. It’s a good match for us.”
Bethel 6, Central Christian 3
SINGLES — Gabe Johnson B def. Andres Padilla CC 7-5, 6-3; Carlos Padilla CC def. Ryan LaCombe BC 6-3, 6-1; Gallagher Martin-Chavez CC def. Connick Roe BC 6-4, 6-2; Tyler Shima BC def. Zach Bueford CC 6-4, 6-2; Grant Bellar BC def. Brandon Lamorche CC 6-4, 6-0; Shawn Bontrager BC def. J.D. Williams CC 6-2, 6-0.
DOUBLES — Johnson-LaCombe BC def. C.Padilla-A.Padilla CC 9-8 (7-4), Lamorche—Martin-Chavez CC def. Bellar-Bontrager BC 9-0, Shima-Preston Gapter BC def. Bueford-Williams CC 9-7.