4th-Ranked CMS Too Much For Men's Tennis
HONOLULU, Hawaii – The 13th-ranked Whitman men's tennis team took on a nationally ranked Division III opponent for the sixth and final time this Spring Break today. Unfortunately for them, they saved their best opponent for last: the 4th-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags, fresh off back-to-back victories over the top two teams in the country. Although the Whits gave the Stags a run for their money in many of the matches, CMS prevailed 7-2.
Andrew La Cava, Jr.
Whitman, now, stands at 10-5 on the season with one non-conference match remaining. They are a perfect 7-0 in Northwest Conference play.
Playing at the Central Oahu Recreational Park, the Whits got off to a familiar start in doubles. After falling into early holes in each of their previous two matches, Coach Jeff Northam shuffled doubles partners in search of a spark for his team. The experiment did not meet with immediate success. Andy Riggs (Auburn, CA) and Steven Roston (San Carlos, CA) got off to a rough start in their first match at No. 2 and got steamrolled by CMS' Neel Kotrappa and Skyler Butts 8-1. At No. 3, seniors Matt Tesmond (Cincinnati, OH) and Sam Sadeghi (Glendale, CA) fought gamely against Alex Lane and Nick Marino before eventually succumbing to an 8-3 defeat.
The biggest highlight of the day for Whitman came at No.1 doubles where junior Andrew La Cava (Bellevue, WA) and sophomore Colton Malesovas (Austin, TX) took on CMS' Warren Wood and Joe Dorn. The Stag twosome is currently ranked 1st in the West region and 3rd in the country. That didn't matter today. The two teams traded breaks of serve in the early going, and each had several chances to break each other throughout the set. Both teams held, however, until the Missionaries earned a gritty hold, serving at 4-5, and broke to take a 6-5 lead. Malesovas played an incredible service game after the changeover to move La Cava and him within a game of victory. Two games later Whitman fell down love-30 serving for the match, but a series of phenomenal La Cava pickups eventually earned the Whits a match point, where Dorn sprayed a forehand return long to give Whitman the victory.
Trailing 1-2 heading into singles for the fourth consecutive match, Whitman was all out of comebacks. The top three positions featured hotly contested first sets and less competitive second sets. At the top spot, Malesovas fell behind the Stag’s No. 1 Warren Wood 2-5 before breaking back to get on serve at 4-5. Serving to stay in the set, the Whitman sophomore double faulted twice to hand Wood the break, and Wood cruised through the second set for a 6-4 6-1 win.
Colton Malesovas, So.
At No. 2, La Cava couldn't continue his torrid play from the doubles court, but managed to earn his first three holds in the first set against Dorn. When Dorn finally broke, he did so frequently and eventually won 6-3 6-1. At No. 3, Andy Riggs moved into the top half of the singles lineup for the first time, only to trail Marino 0-3 early. Whitman's junior transfer broke back twice and served for the set at 5-4, but Marino broke, found his serve, and rattled off eight straight games to seize control of the match. The final score was 7-5, 6-1.
The Missionaries fared much better in the bottom of the singles lineup. Though Sadeghi had a rough day in losing 6-0, 6-0 to CMS freshman Skyler Butts, Steven Roston got a singles victory for his team by edging Mac Cahill 6-3, 6-4.
The singles match of the day came at No. 6 where Whitman freshman Noah Lee (Forestville, CA) took on Stag senior Alex Johnson. Johnson, formerly ranked in the top 30 nationally, broke Lee early in the first set and fought out a 6-1 victory. Johnson held a 4-2 lead in the second set when Lee started cracking forehand winners and strung together four straight games to win the second 6-4. With the team match decided, the match was decided by a ten-point tiebreaker. In the breaker, Johnson jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, but Lee won nine of the next eleven points to earn himself two match points at 9-7. Johnson crushed a big serve on the first, and the tape grabbed a Lee backhand on the next, and the match was knotted again. After changing ends Lee saved a match point himself and earned two more match points, narrowly missing a forehand on one and watching a Johnson forehand winner go by him on another. Then, Johnson finally strung together back-to-back points after the 12-all changeover to complete his 6-1, 4-6, 14-12 win.
Today's 7-2 loss marks the last time Whitman will play a nationally ranked DIII team in the regular season. They have one more match this Spring Break against Hawaii Pacific (the 5th-ranked team in Division II) before returning home to hopefully put the finishing touches on their 6th straight conference championship. Regardless of conference finish, only the winner of the year-end NWC tournament will earn a berth to the NCAA national championship tournament. Keep an eye on Coach Jeff Northam's Twitter (@northam) for updates on Thursday's match against HPU.
Assistant coach Robert Holton-Burke contributed this story.
#4 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps def. #13 Whitman College 7-2
1. La Cava/Malesovas (WC) def. Wood/Dorn (CMS) 8-6
2. Neel Kotrappa/Butts (CMS) def. Riggs/Roston (WC) 8-1
3. Alex Lane/Marino (CMS) def. Matt Tesmond/Sadeghi (WC) 8-3
1. Warren Wood (CMS) def. Colton Malesovas (WC) 6-4, 6-1
2. Joe Dorn (CMS) def. Andrew La Cava (WC) 6-3, 6-1
3. Nick Marino (CMS) def. Andy Riggs (WC) 7-5, 6-1
4. Skyler Butts (CMS) def. Sam Sadeghi (WC) 6-0, 6-0