Tabor men open KCAC play with wins against Bethel

Tabor?s Kyle Kroeker, a Hillsboro High alum, fires a forehand shot during his doubles match against Bethel. Kroeker and teammate Shane Miller won in two sets.

With the tennis season two weeks from its end, the Tabor College men defeated rival Bethel on Thursday, 5-4.

It was the team?s fourth consecutive victory and the first of its conference schedule.

?The men?s win over Bethel College was an extremely good win for us,? coach Michael Hagen said. ?To beat a team like Bethel that has so many great players, it really gives the team some much needed confidence heading into the heart of the season.?

It was also an important win for Hagen, who went up against his former coach for the first time.

?If you don?t know, Lonnie Isaac is now coaching at Bethel,? Hagen said. ?That guy has been my coach for over eight years and is still a really good friend of mine.?

Having a deep squad helped Hagen out-maneuver his mentor and grab wins in two of three doubles matches on Thursday.

First-team all-conference sophomore Aaron Friesen paired with freshman Emerson Kochem to take an 8-6 win from Adam Gaeddert and Dusty Gudde.

Tabor senior Shane Miller and sophomore Chad Gayer defeated Mark Saner and Matt Herschberger 8-4.

Bethel?s top pairing of Drew Pippin and Sam Gaeddert beat Bluejay sophomores Jason Reiswig and Scott Adrian, 8-3.

In singles play, Pippin defeated Kochem in the No. 1 singles match, 6-4, 6-3, but Friesen defeated Gudde, 6-0, 6-4, in the No. 2 match.

Reiswig, a second-team all-conference player last season, battled Sam Gaeddert to a standstill in the first set of the No. 3 match before falling, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1. Adam Gaeddert defeated Gayer, 6-1, 6-1, but Miller and freshman Kyle Kroeker each claimed a win in two sets to salt away the team victory.

?We have 12 players on the roster now and no seniors,? Hagen said. ?It?s a good problem to have, but there are also a lot of great players that don?t get matches because of it.?

With five sophomores, five freshmen and two juniors, the men?s squad is young.

But Hagen, who graduated from player to coach following an all-conference first-team season a year ago, is looking for the team to compete for spot at the top of the conference.

?The depth we have is unbelievable,? he said. ?We could take out our top four or five players and still compete with most teams we are matched up with.?

Coming?Tabor played against Newman at home on Monday, but results were not available at press time.

The Bluejays (4-4) travel to Lindsborg on Wednesday for a match against a Bethany squad expected to be among the best in the conference this season.

Bethany?s squad is led by senior Collin Torrence (4-4) and junior Brad Bietau (5-2). But the Swedes (2-6) have struggled so far on account of playing a tough non-conference schedule.

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