La Cava Bends, Unable to Break Big Foe

News Release Date:
Saturday, October 15

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Playing the role of David against a Goliath-sized opponent, Whitman College sophomore Andrew La Cava bounced a few stones of the forehead of 6-foot-4 Joey Fritz in a Saturday morning tennis match at the USTA / ITA National Small College National Championships in Mobile, Ala.

But La Cava was unable to topple his much taller foe, falling short on several key points in a 6-3, 6-3 loss in the tournament's consolation bracket match for fifth place.

Andrew La Cava

La Cava, athletic and quick but only 5-foot-9, cut Fritz down to size early in the first set, winning the first two games.

Unfortunately for underdogs everywhere, La Cava's early success seemed to awaken the slumbering giant on the other side of the net.

Fritz, a sophomore at Amherst, needed four attempts before finally breaking La Cava to make it 2-1. He then survived a long game to even the slate at 2-2.

After surrendering another service break, La Cava was unable to convert two break points of his own, falling behind 4-2. He held serve on his next turn, but Fritz continued to paint the lines with powerful ground strokes to pocket the next two games and close out the set.

La Cava got off to another strong start in the second set, landing three body blows and a haymaker to break Fritz for a 1-0 lead.

But Fritz, likened by one of La Cava's teammates to Thor (Norse God of Thunder), broke right back and then saved a break point on his next serve for a 2-1 lead.

With the second set square at 3-3, Fritz beat back another break point to take charge. A few games later, serving for the match at 5-3, Fritz spurned two more break points to salt away the victory.

Jeff Northam

"Andrew played pretty well against a very big talent," Whitman coach Jeff Northam said. "He had a ton of break points all through the match that he couldn't quite convert.

"Andrew won the first two games and came close to stretching his lead to 3-0 and even 4-0."

At the same time, Northam said, "Fritz played the big points pretty well. He hits a huge ball; he's one of the biggest hitters in Division III tennis. There's no doubt he's going to be one of the best players in the nation for the next few years."

Fritz played No. 4 singles for Amherst last spring as the Lord Jeffs captured their first-ever NCAA DIII championship.

Despite shoulder tendonitis that limited his service game, La Cava had a great fall season, Northam said.

La Cava captured his second straight Pacific Northwest regional singles title and then went 2-2 at the national championship tournament while playing four of the top five seeds.

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu