Men's Tennis Falls at UC Santa Cruz 8 - 1
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Not so fresh off a ten-hour day of tennis against two nationally ranked teams, the 13th-ranked Whitman men's tennis team took to the court, again, this afternoon for another slugfest. This time their opponents were the No. 11 UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. Going into the match, the Slugs were coming off four consecutive victories against top 20 opponents and were eager to avenge their 2012 loss to Whitman. They continued their streak today with an 8-1 win over Whitman.
Steven Roston, Jr.
With the Whits exhibiting signs of fatigue from their doubleheader the previous day, Santa Cruz struck early and often in doubles. At No. 3, UCSC's Andre Halabi and Chris Goetz showed why they are still undefeated in eight matches against nationally ranked teams in an 8-1 victory over Whitman's Sam Sadeghi (Glendale, CA) and Steven Roston (San Carlos, CA). The other two matches were much closer, but both went sour for Whitman late.
At No. 1, Whitman's Andy Riggs (Auburn, CA) and Matt Tesmond (Cincinnati, OH) and UCSC's Eric Rosner and Erick Koenig played an old school doubles thriller. Neither team could dent the others' service games almost the whole way through. Riggs and Tesmond held their only break points in the 10th game with the Whits leading 5-4, but Koenig erased them with two clutch serves. UC Santa Cruz finally broke in the 15th game with Tesmond serving at 7-7, and served out a 9-7 victory a game later to make it 2-0 for Santa Cruz.
The No. 2 doubles match was similarly frustrating for Whitman. Bryce Bettwy and Max Littlejohn broke Whitman's Colton Malesovas (Austin, TX) and Andrew La Cava (Bellevue, WA) in the first game and held on to it for the rest of the match. Whitman's duo held break points in at least three service games throughout the match, but the Slugs held firm to seal and 8-6 win and a 3-0 lead for UCSC.
The singles portion of the proceedings was more of the same. Bettwy smothered senior Sam Sadeghi with his powerful forehand and came away with a hard-fought 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 3 to push UC Santa Cruz' lead to 4-0. Shortly thereafter, UCSC's Andre Halabi clinched the team match for the Slugs by beating La Cava 7-5 6-1. La Cava fought back from an early break deficit to knot the first set at 5-5, but then got broken and couldn't break back in the ensuing game, despite earning two break points. After that, the result of the second set was a foregone conclusion, as the Whitman junior's legs abandoned him after a brutal three-set battle the previous evening.
Despite losing the team match, each of the remaining Whitties continued to fight bravely. Junior transfer Andy Riggs continued his perfect weekend in singles and got Whitman on the board by beating Elias Scandalis 6-2 6-3 at No. 5. Junior Will Huskey (Auburn, CA) recovered from a tough first set to win the second at No. 6, but Rosner, Santa Cruz' wily senior, elevated his game in the final set to win 6-2 3-6 6-0 and extend UCSC's lead to 6-1.
Andy Riggs, Jr.
At No. 1, Malesovas nearly completed another epic comeback against Koenig when he came back from being down a set and 1-5 to level the second at 5-5. Unfortunately, he couldn't complete the comeback and fell 6-1 7-5. The final match was a grueling battle at the No. 4 position between two players perfect in DIII competition this year. UC Santa Cruz' senior Sam Rogers appeared to have the upper hand early when he overcame several service breaks from Whitman's Steven Roston to win the first 6-3. The two grinders traded service breaks throughout the second set as well, which eventually left Roston serving to stay in the match at 4-5. From there, the lefty staved off two match points held and broke to lead 6-5. Rogers responded in kind to send the second set to a tiebreaker where Whitman's junior prevailed 7-4. With the team match long since decided, the two players finished with a 10-point tiebreaker. Roston raced out to a 5-0 lead, but Rogers never made an error from there on out, and won 10 of the next 12 points to complete a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 10-7 win.
The loss moves Whitman's record to 8-3 (7-0 in NWC) heading into the second portion of their Spring Break trip. The team leaves for Hawaii tomorrow where they will compete against No. 10 Washington University in St. Louis on the 15th, No. 27 Whittier College on the 18th, and No. 4 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on the 19th. The Whits will also play BYU-Hawaii, Idaho University and Hawaii Pacific in interdivisional competitions.
Please, follow Coach Jeff Northam on Twitter (@northam) for match scores.
Robert Holton-Burke contributed this story.
Whitman Sports Information Director