MADISON, WISCONSIN — Former Ottumwa star tennis player C.J. Ray has helped the Grinnell College men continue a dominant run of success in the Midwest Conference.
The Pioneers claimed their 11th consecutive conference title last Friday afternoon, topping Monmouth College 5-2 in the title match. Wins over Monmouth, as well as Lake Forest College in the semifinals, extended Grinnell’s winning streak against MWC teams to 105 matches dating all the way back to 2002.
Ray certainly did his part to keep the streak alive. The former Bulldog state tennis qualifier scored a straight-sets win in the No. 6 singles match against Monmouth’s Andrew Shiakallis, winning 6-4, 6-0 to put the Pioneers up 4-2 heading into doubles play. Ray then joined teammate freshman Cole Miller to earn an 8-3 doubles win over Marco Franco and Alex King that clinched the conference crown for Grinnell.
Earlier in the day, Grinnell defeated Lake Forest 5-0. The Pioneers swept doubles with Ray and Miller winning the toughest match, earning an 8-6 win in the No. 3 doubles match over Anthony Mykhaylovskyy and Derek Schaltz, giving the Pioneers their 30th dual win this season.
Ray added a singles title to his fantastic sophomore season in the Midwest Conference tournament over the weekend. The former OHS Bulldog claimed his second straight MWC singles title, beating Carroll’s Nolan Schillerstrom (6-0, 6-0), Monmouth’s Shiakallis ( 6-1, 6-0) before he shut out Jerry Wang of Lake Forest 6-0, 6-0 in the championship match.
Ray finished up a successful weekend of conference tournament play by joining Miller in winning the No. 3 doubles tournament title. Ray and Miller defeated a squad for Cornell College 6-0, 6-1 and a team from Monmouth 6-1, 6-0 before they downed St. Norbert's Josh Sweere and Casey Brice 6-1, 6-4 to claim top honors.
"Conference is the biggest tournament we have each year," Ray said. "We're competing against some of our rival schools. It really means a lot for myself and my confidence going forward."