Whitman tennis players head south for national championships

News Release Date:
Sunday, October 7, 2012

James Rivers, So.

In what is becoming a yearly tradition, five Whitman tennis players are headed to Mobile, AL this week to play in the ITA Small College National Championships. The tournament starts on Thursday, as sophomore Courtney Lawless (Austin, TX), junior Alyssa Roberg (Santa Cruz, CA), junior Andrew La Cava (Bellevue, WA), and sophomores James Rivers (Honolulu, HI) and Colton Malesovas (Austin, TX) look to turn their respective ITA Fall Northwest Regional victories into national championships. In order to earn a spot into the eight-team, compass draw, national championship tournament, the Whits will have to win play-in matches against the Southwest regional champions.

Courtney Lawless, So.

In the singles bracket on the women’s side, Courtney Lawless, the 26th-ranked player in Division III, will play Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Brittni Fausett. Fausett is playing her first year at Mary Hardin-Baylor after transferring from Division I Northern Illinois, where she compiled an 11-13 record playing mostly #2 and #3 singles. So far, she has adjusted well to the Division III game, as she beat #4-ranked Mackenzie Knoop of Trinity University 6-3, 6-3 to punch her ticket to nationals. Lawless will not be intimidated by Fausett’s DI pedigree, however. In her first year, she built an impressive 23-3 record playing #1 and 2 singles for Whitman. She didn’t lose a dual match against a Division III opponent all last season, and she was points away from beating Crystal Lim, the West region’s representative in Mobile, in the second round of the team national championships when her match was stopped. If she were to win her play-in match, she would earn the #3 seed and play Laura Krull of Grinnell.

In the doubles bracket, Lawless will team with Alyssa Roberg to play Trinity University’s Mackenzie Knoop and Thavindra Ekanayake, the 12th-ranked doubles team in the country. Lawless and Roberg are ranked two spots ahead of their opponents at 10th, and are very familiar with their opponents. In this same tournament last year, Roberg and Lawless ousted Knoop and then-partner Stephanie Williamson 6-1, 7-5 in the play-in match. When Whitman played Trinity in the spring, they beat Knoop and Ekanayake by a 8-2 score.  If they get past their Trinity opponents, they will earn the #2 seed in the doubles bracket, and play Bridget Doyle and Mikayla Becich of Carleton College.

Alyssa Roberg, Sr.
Andrew La Cava, Jr.

On the men’s side of things, the Whit men will meet Trinity Tigers in play-in matches of both the singles and doubles brackets for the third year in a row. Colton Malesovas, a surprise winner of the ITA Fall Regional singles tournament, will meet fellow-Texan Aaron Skinner. Skinner was also a surprise winner in the Southwest region. He played #6 singles for the Tigers last year, but worked his way through the regional bracket, notching an impressive three-set victory over Ryan Ybarra, the former #6 singles player for Texas Tech (ranked #23 in Division I), in the finals. The winner of the play-in match will meet top-seeded Adam Putterman of Washington University in St. Louis.

In the doubles bracket, 2010 regional doubles champion Andrew La Cava and James Rivers will play Skinner and Jordan Mayer. The last time La Cava met a pair of Trinity Tigers in a play-in match, he ended up on the wrong end of a 6-7 (1), 7-6 (7), 10-6 defeat to the eventual national champions, but he will be looking to reverse the decision with a new partner. The two Missionaries stormed through the regional doubles tournament, dropping just four games on their way to the championship. Skinner and Mayer are also a new combination for Trinity, as they qualified for nationals by virtue of a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Casey Clark and Dustin Foster of UT-Dallas. The winner will enter the quarterfinals as the #4 seed and play Jackson Isaacs and Nick Szczurek of Emory.

Colton Malesovas, So.

Match times are yet to be determined, but they will be starting around 10AM Central Time on Wednesday the 10th. Follow Coach Hein (@coachhein) and Coach Northam (@northam) on Twitter for up-to-the-minute scores.