ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Tabor College tennis team won the KCAC championship Saturday for the first time in school history.
Coach Lonnie Isaac and tennis squad accomplished the feat at the Riverside Tennis Center in Wichita, April 25 and 26.
Tabor scored 100 points to outdistance second-place Bethany with 84.
“It’s a big moment for our tennis program,” Isaac said. “It’s a huge step in the direction of where we want to head with this program.
“The conference championship was a goal we set at the start of the year,” Isaac added. “We knew we had the talent and depth to do it and we got it done.”
Tabor captured four singles titles and one doubles title en route to the championship.
Michael Hagen, playing No. 3 singles, defeated Larson of Bethany, 6-1, 6-1.
In No. 4 singles, James Fisher defeated Kerschen of Friends, 6-1, 6-3.
Neil Rabi captured No. 5 singles by beating Biegert of Bethany, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
Jon Adrian concluded an undefeated season in No. 6 singles with a win over Hickel of Friends, 6-1 6-1.
In No. 3 doubles, Adrian teamed with Rabi to win Tabor’s other championship by defeating Hickel/Erker of Friends, 6-0, 6-2.
“These two were our number three doubles at the start of the year, but I split them up for awhile,” Isaac said. “Since I’ve put them back together, they’ve been rock solid. They’ve been dominant.”
Placing second in No. 2 singles was Rob Baboniu, who was defeated in the title match by Matzen of Friends, 6-1, 6-2.
In the title match in No. 1 singles, Ryan Camping lost to Brian Harvey of Bethany, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.
“Ryan started really strong in his match, but lost it in a real tough third set,” Isaac said. “He played a smart match.
“Ryan’s effort was tremendous,” Isaac said. “In our eyes, he’s still a conference champion.”
The No. 1 doubles team of Camping and Scott Friesen placed third, defeating Mooney/ Tripp of Kansas Wesleyan, 6-4, 6-4.
In No. 2 doubles, Hagen/Baboniu placed second, losing a three-set match to Larson/Biegert of Bethany 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“It’s a season of firsts,” Isaac said. “We won our first conference championship, for many of them their first individual titles, and the first time we beat Bethany.”
Along with team’s success comes individual honors.
Tabor boasts five All-KCAC performers. Camping was a unanimous first-team selection.
“He actually got a few votes for conference MVP,” Isaac said.
Also garnering first team accolades were Hagen and Baboniu.
Baboniu was also named KCAC newcomer of the year.
Earning second-team honors were Rabi and Fisher.
Fisher was also awarded the KCAC scholar athlete award.
“This is the second year James has won this award,” Isaac said. “To qualify, you must maintain a 3.5 GPA or better and excel on the tennis court.”
Last but not least, Isaac was named KCAC coach of the year.
“That’s more of a tribute to the players,” Isaac said. “They obviously win this award for the coaches.
“We have good kids in the program now, and have quality players,” he added. “The coaches are the ones who vote on this and I guess they think we’re (Tabor) heading in the right direction.”
Winning the conference tournament qualified Tabor to participate in the NAIA regional tournament this weekend at Wichita Riverside.
Tabor will play at 9 a.m., Saturday. Isaac said their opponent will likely Nebraska Wesleyan or Sioux Falls (S. D).
Tabor faced Nebraska Wesleyan last year and was defeated 1-8.
“They return their whole team,” Isaac said. “We’ll be an underdog, but that may work to our advantage.”
If Tabor wins their morning match, they’ll play again at 1 p.m. for the regional championship.
“It’s all about team now,” Isaac said. “You just want to get to five points.
“I do think we’re capable of winning in Wichita,” he added. “We have nothing to lose, so I think being an underdog can be a good thing.”