Men's Tennis Opens Hawaii Trip With Impressive Win
News Release Date:
Wednesday, January 11
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- The Whitman College men's tennis team kicked off the competitive portion of its week-long trip to Hawaii with an impressive 5-4 Wednesday victory over a nationally ranked NCAA Division II team.
Playing at Honolulu's Central Oahu Regional Park, Whitman took two of three matches in doubles and then split the six bouts in singles to edge the University of Hawaii Pacific.
Whitman, which starts the season at No. 30 in the NCAA DIII ranks, slipped behind 4-3 during singles before sophomore Will Huskey and senior Conor Holton-Burke won the last two matches to seal the victory.
"I was incredibly happy with the maturity and competitive spirit of the team," coach Jeff Northam said.
"Honestly, this might be one of the most mature wins I've seen from a Whitman team. The guys battled from start to finish and never panicked, even when we were down 4-3."
Huskey evened the match at 4-4 with a 3-6, 7-6, 6-0 comeback victory at No. 5 singles over HPU's Sari Alotaibi, a junior from Amman, Jordan, by way of Texas Christian University.
|Will Huskey bearing down
Alotaibi, who represented Jordan in the 2007 Davis Cup, fell victim in the third set to Huskey's "much improved movement and conditioning," Northam said. "This was a huge win for Will ... he came through in the clutch."
Huskey's victory left the outcome "squarely on the shoulders" of Holton-Burke, Northam noted, in his match at No. 2 singles with Stephan Weling, a senior from Eupen, Belgium.
Again, it was the Whitman player who ruled the third set as Holton-Burke outlasted his foe for a 7-6, 6-7, 6-1 triumph.
"At one point in the match I got goosebumps watching Conor track down balls all over the court before forcing his opponent into a mistake," Northam said. "Gotta admit it was awesome winning both third sets today."
Whitman's other victory in singles came at No. 6 from freshman James Rivers, whose family lives in Honolulu and is hosting the Whitman contingent this week.
Rivers made his collegiate dual match debut by rolling to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Joshua Kakugawa, a junior from Kaneohe, Hawaii.
Rivers also teamed with freshman Colton Malesovas for a quick 8-2 victory over Kakugawa and Alotaibi at No. 3 doubles.
Junior Jeff Tolman and sophomore Andrew La Cava notched Whitman's other doubles point in the No. 2 slot, posting an 8-2 victory over sophomore Ji Hoon Heo (Northern Marianas Islands) and freshman Adriano Locorotondo (Wolfsburg, Germany).
HPU salvaged a point at No. 1 doubles, where Holton-Burke and junior Matt Tesmond dropped an 8-2 decision to the hard-hitting and big-serving tandem of Weling and Patric Guenther, a junior from Braunschweig, Germany.
|January in Hawaii?
Big thumbs-up from Conor Holton-Burke
The Sharks then snared their momentary 4-3 lead in the team scoring by winning three of the first four decisions in singles.
Guenther out-slugged La Cava 63, 7-5 at No. 1, Tolman dropped a closer than it appears 6-2, 6-0 decision to Locotondo at No. 3, and sophomore Steven Roston battled but fell 6-4, 6-3 at No. 4.
"We are so fortunate to be able to make this Hawaiian trip prior to the start of the semester," Northam said.
"We've had some great practices and bonding time that will make us stronger and create tighter team bonds.
"Major thanks to the Rivers family. They have gone above and beyond in hosting us this week.
"Amazing accommodations and support and unbelievable food. Simply amazing!"
Whitman plays another match on Thursday again NCAA Division I Gonzaga.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org