Men's Tennis Improves to 4 - 0 in Conference with Victory at George Fox
TUALATIN HILLS, Ore. – Last season, the George Fox Bruins put Whitman's NWC match winning streak (which now sits at 94) to the test when they took a 2-1 lead in doubles over the Whits on a misty afternoon in Newberg. Though the Missionaries stormed back to win that match 6-3, the perpetually-improving Bruins appeared set to put another charge into Whitman when they hosted the five-time defending champs this evening at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center.
Colton Malesovas, So.
With the regular season NWC championship likely hanging in the balance, a small but rowdy George Fox student section made the 45 minute drive from their campus to the indoor tennis facility in Tualatin, but the Whits silenced any thoughts of an upset early. At No. 3 doubles, Colton Malesovas (Austin, TX) and Steven Roston (B-Game, CA) struck first for the Whits with an 8-1 win. The duo broke on their first opportunity and swarmed all over Preston Mann and Drew Milton before they had a chance to gain any footing. Andrew La Cava (Bellevue, WA) and Sam Sadeghi (Los Angeles, CA) made it 2-0 with a hard-fought 8-2 victory over George Fox's Shawn Aldrich and Chris Lilley at No. 1. The match featured several multi-deuce games and was much closer than the 8-2 score, but the Missionaries seemed to come away with every big point en route to the victory.
The doubles match of the day came at No. 2 where Matt Tesmond (Cincinnati, OH) and Andy Riggs (Auburn, CA) stormed back from a 2-6 deficit to defeat Justin McClain and Peter Brown 9-8 (7-3). The comeback was punctuated by a series of textbook poaches late in the tiebreak that gave Whitman the doubles sweep and extinguished any hope of an upset.
Andrew La Cava, Sr.
Leading 3-0, Whitman kept its collective foot on the gas pedal in singles. Roston was the first off the court at No. 4 singles with a 6-4, 6-1 win over former Bruin no. 1 Preston Mann. Riggs finished just behind him with a match-clinching 6-1, 6-2 victory over Milton at No. 5. La Cava kept Whitman's momentum rolling by topping Shawn Aldrich 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 2 position, and Malesovas made it 7-0 with an impressive 6-3 6-1 triumph over Justin McClain at the top spot. First year Noah Lee (Forestville, CA) piled it on by beating George Fox's Peter Brown 6-1, 6-4 to make it 8-0.
The day was not perfect for Whitman, however, as Sadeghi fell to Lilley in an epic match at the No. 3 position. Lilley jumped out to an early 5-3 lead in the first set over the Whitman senior, but Sadeghi battled back to take a 6-5 lead. The Bruin freshman managed to serve his way into the tiebreaker where he nosed Sadeghi 7-5. The second set was all Whitman. Sadeghi jumped out to a 5-0 lead before closing out the set 6-2 to send to the match to a deciding 3rd. With a long drive home looming and the facilities operators eager to close up, the two played a 10-point tiebreaker to decide it. The combatants traded leads throughout the tiebreaker, but Lilley unleashed two crafty passing shots late to give himself a 7-6 (5), 2-6, 10-8 victory.
With the 8-1 victory, the Missionaries have put themselves in the driver's seat for a 6th consecutive NWC title. Because of the "1 1/2 round robin" NWC schedule, Whitman only plays George Fox once this regular season, so the Bruins, the No. 1 contender for the NWC crown, will not get another opportunity to avenge their loss until the NWC tournament.
Whitman is now 4-1 on the season and 4-0 in the conference. The Missionaries will be back in action at home next weekend when they play Puget Sound at 5PM on Friday and Whitworth at 1PM on Saturday. The Pirates are coming off a 6-3 win over Pacific University, the runners-up from last year's conference regular season. As always, you can follow Coach Jeff Northam on Twitter (@northam) for up-to-the-minute match scores.
This story was contributed by Robert Holton-Burke
Whitman Sports Information Director