The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

St. John’s Men’s Tennis Powers Through Opening Week Undefeated

The team played three straight sweeps vs. Bryant, Quinnipiac and Long Island University.
Torch Photo / Isabella Cautero

The St. John’s Men’s Tennis team opened up their 2024 season with a straight sweep in three days of matches against Bryant, Quinnipiac and Long Island University (LIU). 

The reigning 2023 Big East champions enter the season with three returning players in sophomore Adam Groves, and juniors Carl Gustavsson and Ryota Kaneda. Gustavsson comes off a season that ended in a First-Team-All Big East selection following his championship run. They’ll be joined by eight new players on the roster, including the off-season acquisition of Francisco Bascón, a graduate student from Idaho who has already entered the scene nicely by earning himself a trip to the ITA Super Regionals last October. 

Tuesday’s home opener, 6-1, against Bryant at Cunningham Park, marked the fifth meeting between the two teams since 2010. In singles, Gustavsson and Kaneda both impressed with consecutive sets 6-1,6-1 each. In the No.1 spot, Bascón delivered a 6-3, 6-0 win that helped steady the Red Storm as Bryant grabbeda single game on the day later on. The doubles courts also dominated with a 6-3 and a 7-5 win over the Bulldogs. 

The next day, the Johnnies took on the Quinnipiac Bobcats at the USTA National Tennis Center in a resounding 7-0 win. For the second straight day, Kaneda played at the No. 5 spot in singles and again dominated with a 6-4,6-1 victory over Donavon Brown for the Bobcats. The two pairings of Leon Ketko and Ignacio Vinas and Gustavsson and Leonardo Mleikowsky in the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles courts began the train of wins for the day. Both pairings picked up their second wins of the season together. 

The final match of the week came with a 7-0 sweep at Cunningham Park against local rivals Long Island University. Switching it up, Gustavsson was paired with graduate student Martin Bugaj in the No. 1 doubles court, earning their first victory as a pairing in a 6-2 set win. Mileikowsky and Bascón made for another new pairing and also earned themselves a 6-2 win against the Sharks. Kaneda improved to 3-0 in the No. 5 spot in the singles court after picking up the final match points to improve the Johnnies to 3-0. 

This young team made up of only three graduate students and zero seniors, is already making a case for a repeat Big East Championship season. 

At the forefront, the Johnnies must rely on Red Storm veterans, with Gustavsson and Kaneda as the perfect keys to improving their record further and powering through a long spring season. Bascón will have to step to the No. 1 spot in the singles court as the season progresses and they face more Big East forces down the stretch. 

After a week-long home stint, the Johnnies will head onto the road to Ithaca, New York to take on Cornell University in a Jan. 29 match at 1 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Cautero, Asst. Sports Editor
Isabella is a junior journalism student serving as an Assistant Sports Editor. She is minoring in sport management. Outside of The Torch, she likes to spend time with her friends, read, go to the gym, play with her dog and watch the New York Yankees or Rangers play. On any given day you can find her listening to her favorite artists, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles. 

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