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Men’s tennis extends HCAC dominance, appears in NCAA national tournament

Will Palmer
Will Palmer

The men’s tennis team extended to 54 its extraordinary seven-year string of match victories over Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference teams on the way to a seventh straight HCAC title and a third straight appearance in the NCAA Division III national championship.

The Pioneers completed another perfect season in the HCAC, finishing 8-0, while also compiling a 17-4 overall record. Before losing in the NCAA’s first round, Transy had won 15 of its last 16 regular season and HCAC tourney dual matches.

“Every year, we set the goal of keeping the streak alive,” said head coach Chuck Brown. “The senior class feels that responsibility, and it rubs off on the underclassmen.”

In the HCAC tournament, held at the West Indy Racquet Club in Indianapolis, Transy dispatched Bluffton College 5-0 to move into the semifinals against Franklin College. The Pioneers defeated Franklin, and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in the finals, both by 5-1 scores.

First-year player Will Palmer was named both Player and Freshman of the Year in the conference, only the second player in the history of the HCAC to sweep both awards. He compiled a 24-7 record (14-1 against league opponents), playing No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles. Teammates joining him on the All-HCAC first team were juniors Kyle Clayton, Lee Gammon, and Dalton Main, and first-year player Keith Henderson. Brown won his seventh HCAC Coach of the Year award.

Transy played in the NCAA’s Atlanta Regional, hosted by Emory University, and met Hampden-Sydney College in a first-round matchup. Transy could win but one contest, an 8-2 victory by Gammon and Henderson in No. 2 doubles, as the Pioneers lost the match 5-1.

The Pioneers kicked the season off with a spring break trip to Hilton Head, S.C., where they compiled a 2-2 record with wins over Colby-Sawyer College and Hood College.

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