April 19, 2012
Bearcat men look for 3rd straight MIAA Title
By David Boyce
Northwest Missouri State senior Calvin Patterson went into his final regular season match Tuesday afternoon facing one of the top players in the MIAA.
Sophomore Arkadiusz Kozaczuk has played No. 1 singles for Washburn all spring. It didn’t take long for Patterson to realize he needed to give a championship effort to pull out a victory.
In each set of Patterson’s 7-5, 7-5 win over Kozaczuk, Patterson served trailing 5-4. Both times Patterson held serve, broke Kozaczuk and then won his serve again to close out the set.
“It was back and forth the entire match,” Patterson said. “There was a lot of pressure on me on my serve. It was a tough match and incredibly long match.”
Patterson came up with the victory to improve to 10-5 as the Bearcats’ No. 1 player.
Patterson and the entire Northwest men’s tennis team heads into this weekend’s MIAA Tournament brimming with confidence.
“It gives you confidence that you can beat one of the top players from one of the top teams in conference,” Patterson said. “To have that experience going in, knowing that you beat a top player like that in the big moment is big going into a tournament like this.”
Northwest is looking to win its third straight MIAA Tournament, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Plaza Tennis Courts in Kansas City Mo.
The Bearcats, which finished 4-0 in the MIAA during dual play, have surprised the competition.
While Northwest is a perennial contender for the MIAA title under longtime coach Mark Rosewell, the Bearcats were supposed to be rebuilding this season.
Patterson was the lone returner of the top six singles players off of last year’s conference championship team.
“Everybody thought we were going to have a rebuilding year and here we are winning the dual conference championship and the No. 1 seed at the tournament. That’s very good,” Rosewell said.
“We were extremely lucky. We got some fine players in. We have a good player from last year. Calvin Patterson is our No. 1 player. That was a real good start there.”
Northwest, which lost some very high-quality players from last year, have already had an awesome season. The Bearcats are 17-4 overall in dual matches, winning 14 of 17 regional matches.
“It is not a rebuilding year; it’s a successful year,” Patterson said. “We shocked a lot of people, for sure.”
Now, the entire focus is on this weekend. Obviously, Southwest Baptist, Truman, Washburn or Emporia State wants to be the team to dethrone the king of men’s tennis in the MIAA.
Northwest men will begin action in the tournament at 11 a.m. Saturday. The men’s finals and third places matches will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday.
“It is a good capsule on the year, to play at the Plaza in downtown Kansas City,” Patterson said. “It is really nice. We have a ton of supporters there. The atmosphere is nice, especially on Sunday. You wake up Sunday and the feeling that comes over you is something that can’t be matched anywhere else.”
Patterson added that the Bearcats are ready.
“We put together a good combination of guys who want to compete,” he said. “We all have the same goal and that’s for our season not to end this weekend. We all want to continue on to regional.
“We have won some tough matches and we lost some tough matches. We have come through it all and we are ready to be successful this weekend.”
Northwest women’s team has been nearly as successful in conference play. The Bearcats are 5-1 in the MIAA with still a suspended match against Southwest Baptist left to be completed.
Northwest will finish the suspended match on Friday at the Plaza and then jump right into the conference tournament. The Bearcats will either play at 3 p.m. or 5 p.m. Friday, depending on their seed.
“They have had a good season in conference,” Rosewell said. “They had one loss to Washburn.”
No matter what kind of men and women’s team he has, Rosewell, a tennis enthusiast, truly enjoys this weekend.
“I love the conference tournament,” Rosewell said. “I’m so proud to see how far the league has gone. I think it is the best league in the country in all sports.”
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