Even with a final loss, Mason takes gains from the court

As Carter Mason left the court following his three-set singles loss in the GPAC (Great Plains Athletic Conference) Invite semifinals two weeks ago on Saturday, he had to take a moment to understand the reality that he had just played his last college tennis match.

“I definitely took a moment after I lost. I just needed to gather myself because I realized it was my last match,” Mason said.

Mason, a senior from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, had his sights set on this tournament—the lone tournament in the fall—when he made the decision to graduate at the end of the first semester.

“It (the 2020 GPAC Invite) meant a lot because my career has been more than just these four years. It’s been a journey that started since I was 10 and this was the final chapter. It meant more to me because it was the last time I would play with my teammates in college, which have meant the most to me,” Mason said.

Mason began his Hastings College tennis career with some fireworks as a first-year, winning the fall GPAC invite in singles and doubles. He followed it up by helping his team finish second in the GPAC regular season standings, before avenging the team’s loss to Midland in the 2018 GPAC Tournament Final. 

The win clinched a spot in Nationals, which kept the team’s five-year streak intact. The Broncos would fall in the first round, but Mason has lots of memories from that trip.

“I remember nationals was just the most fun thing ever. I mean, we stayed at a nice hotel, we got to go out, it was just an amazing time. So that was probably my most memorable moment,” Mason said.

During his sophomore year, Mason was named GPAC Player of the Week on April 8, 2019 and helped the Broncos capture a share of the GPAC regular season championship. Following the season, Mason was also named GPAC Player of the Year.

With the majority of the season canceled last spring, Mason has ended his HC tennis career with a singles record of 32-16 overall and 12-1 in conference. In doubles, Mason was 31-16 overall and 12-2 in conference.

While Mason was successful on the court, what stands out to him the most is what he gained off the court as a part of the program, especially the relationships he formed.

“Being part of something that is bigger than just me and knowing that my impact on the court means less than off the court (stands out). Talking to my coach (Head Coach Mark Gueswell), taught me a lot about that, and he taught me how to be a better person and share love and share grace and forgiveness more than how to win on the court,” Mason said.

Mason is grateful for the relationships that he formed with his coaches, complete with memories to last a lifetime. 

“Dakota (Burns, graduate assistant), I played with for two years. He’s been my coach for two years. He’s been somebody who’s had such a huge impact on me because he’s seen both sides. He’s seen the player side of me and he’s seen the coaching side of me. He’s had an impact because I know that from now on he’ll be one of my lifelong friends. I was in Mark’s wedding, Dakota was in there, too. And it just shows how close we all are in that respect,” Mason

Mason cited the program for helping him with his competitiveness, understanding that having good character can help him “shine in the world” and transition smoothly into life after college.