The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 28, 2008

Kauss leading Gusties at ITA Regional

Three Gusties advance to ITA regional semifinals

By Shane Frederick

ST PETER — John Kauss wasn’t sure where he’d be seeded when the draw for this weekend’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association regional came out.

Last year’s ITA Division III player of the year, Kauss’ Gustavus Adolphus teammate Andy Bryan, had graduated, leaving the top slot open.

But Kauss, the Gusties’ No. 2 player last season, didn’t just move up on his team’s ladder, he was given the top seed for the regional.

“I wasn’t too surprised,” said Kauss, a senior. “I wouldn’t have been disappointed with any seed. There are a lot of good players in this regional.”

Kauss is making his case for the top seed, though, as he has breezed into this morning’s semifinals.

On Saturday, he made quick work of 19th-seeded Peter Dunn of Carleton, 6-1, 6-1 and 10th-seeded Sammy Ramoni of Carthage 6-2, 6-0. In four regional matches, the St. Paul native has dropped just six games.

“He has been playing very well,” Gusties coach Steve Wilkinson said. “He had very good results this summer and, last year, he was No. 2 behind (Bryan), who was one of the best to every play for Gustavus.”

Kauss said he played in several adult tournaments around Minnesota and Iowa over the summer to prepare for his final collegiate season.

“I’m in a lot better shape,” he said. “I’m putting it all on the line for my senior year.”

Kauss will face fifth-seeded Carlos Perez Borja of Grinnell at 9 a.m. today. Two of Kauss’ teammates, sixth-seeded Mike Burdakin and eighth-seded Charlie Paukert, will meet in the other semifinal.

“I wish we could have had four (players in the semifinals),” said Burdakin, who dropped just five games in two matches Saturday.

Paukert had a tougher time getting to the final four. In the quarterfinals, he defeated 18th-seeded Scott Sundstrom of Luther in three emotional sets, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.

“There were some critical points that could have gone either way,” Wilkinson said of Paukert’s match, which lasted nearly three hours.

Kauss, meanwhile, kept things quick.

In doubles play, he and Burdakin, the No. 2-seeded team, cruised into today’s finals with three wins: 8-2, 8-1 and 8-2.

They will play Gustavus teammates Kevin Stickney and Nick Hanson at 2 p.m. today. Stickney and Hanson, the No. 8 seed, upset third-seeded Ryan King and Scott Stegmann of Coe 8-6.

Kauss and Burdakin are starting their second season as partners.

They placed second in last year’s ITA regional.

“We’re trying to redeem that loss from finals last year,” Kauss said.