News release date: April 28, 1997

Close But No Cigar: Whitman Doubles
Team Nearly Wins Second NCIC Title

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Akshay Shetty and Haroon Ullah, a pair of Whitman College sophomores, came within one match of winning their second straight doubles title as the Northwest Conference of Independent Colleges (NCIC) championships concluded Sunday, April 27, in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Shetty and Ullah, who won the NCIC doubles title a year ago as freshmen, drew a first-round bye when the conference tournament opened Friday, April 25.

Shetty and Ullah, the No. 4 doubles seed this year, then reeled off three consecutive victories to advance to the title match against Matt Braund and Clayton Harris of Pacific Lutheran University.

Braund and Harris, the No. 2 doubles seed, rolled to a 6-3, 6-3 victory to claim the title. The PLU twosome did not lose a set during the tournament.

"Akshay played very well in the first set, and then Haroon played very well in the second set," Whitman coach Dean Snider said. "Had they both played well throughout the match, it was a match they could have won. But the team from PLU is very good."

PLU scored a total of 54 points during the tournament to claim the NCIC team title and a berth to the NAIA national championships, slated for May 19-24 in Tulsa, Okla.

Willamette finished second with 37 points, while Whitman and Puget Sound tied for third place 32 points. Whitworth was a distant fourth with 16 points, followed by Pacific with 14 points, George Fox with 13, Linfield with 12 and Lewis & Clark with 10.

Shetty, a sophomore from Bombay, India, made Whitman's strongest showing in the top flight of the tournament's singles competition. Seeded No. 4 in singles, Shetty followed a first-round bye with a pair of three-set victories before losing to PLU's Braund in the semifinals.

Willamette's Pablo Ugarte, a member of the Bolivian Davis Cup team, then crushed Braund 6-0, 6-1, to win the singles title and an individual berth to the national tournament.

Ullah, who graduated from Richland (Wash.) High School, followed his first-round bye in singles with a two-set victory in the second round. He lost to Braund 7-5, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.

Both Ullah and Shetty were among the eight players named to the NCIC All- Conference team.

Whitman's third entry in the top singles flight, Geoff Mayes, raced to a 6-0, 6-0 victory in the opening round. Mayes, a freshman from Cascade High School in Mill Creek, Wash., lost in the second round to Puget Sound's Jared Brodin, the No. 3 seed, who later fell in the semifinals to Ugarte.

The tournament also included a lower singles flight that allowed each school to enter three more players.

Bryan Oliver, a sophomore from Boise (Idaho) High School, made Whitman's best showing in the lower flight. Oliver won his first two matches before losing to Willamette's Derek McCarthy 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, in the quarterfinals. McCarthy is the son of Jayne McCarthy, coach of the Whitman women's tennis team.

Whitman's Clifford Mah, a sophomore from Benson High School in Portland, Oregon, followed a first-round bye with 6-0, 6-0 second-round victory. Mah, the No. 3 seed in the lower singles flight, lost in the quarterfinals in three sets, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.

Whitman's Charlie Larson, the No. 7 seed in the lower flight, posted a three-set victory in the opening round. Larson, a sophomore from Stadium High School in Tacoma, Wash., lost in the second round.

Whitman had two other entries in the doubles bracket. Larson and Oliver won their opening-round match before losing in the second round to PLU's Braund and Harris, the eventual champions.

Mah and his doubles partner, Curtis Haynie, a sophomore from Hood River (Oregon) High School, lost in the opening round, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4). Dropping into the consolation bracket, Mah and Haynie drew a first-round bye but dropped an 8-2 pro set decision in the second round.


Dave Holden
Whitman College Sports Information,
(509) 527-5902
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