Malesovas Falls, Rivers/La Cava Advance at ITA Nationals

News Release Date:
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The three nationals qualifiers with the NWC trophy

Mobile, Ala- Whitman College and Trinity University are developing quite a rivalry without playing each other in a dual match. The two traditional tennis powers split decisions in the singles and doubles play-in matches at the ITA Fall Nationals in what is becoming a fall tradition for the two schools.

Colton Malesovas, So.

In the singles match, a strong start soured from Whitman sophomore Colton Malesovas (Austin, TX). Playing Trinity's Aaron Skinner, Malesovas, who qualified for the tournament with a victory in the ITA Northwest Fall Regional tournament three weeks ago, held his first service game before breaking Skinner in the second to take a 2-0 lead. Malesovas then saved a couple break points in his next service game and had a chance to take a 3-0 lead. Skinner won three straight points, however, to break back and level the match. With the momentum now firmly in his corner, Skinner won the next three games to take a 4-2 lead, and eventually broke Malesovas at 5-3 to win a marathon first set 6-3.

That break allowed Skinner to serve first in the second set, which proved to be the deciding factor. After holding for the first seven games of the second set, Skinner broke at 4-3 to take a 5-3 lead. With his back against the wall, Malesovas tightened his focus and broke with Skinner serving for the match to get back on serve. Unfortunately, Skinner then broke to win the match 6-3, 6-4.

Coach Jeff Northam was very complimentary of Colton's performance: "Colton played a very solid singles match. I was incredibly impressed how he played and competed with the pressure of the play-in match. The first set was much closer than the 6-3 score. 6 of the 9 games went to deuce, and unfortunately, Colton lost five of those games."

In the doubles portion, two-time all-American Andrew La Cava (Bellevue, WA) and partner James Rivers (Honolulu, HI) returned the favor to Skinner and doubles partner Jordan Mayer, the Southwest Regional doubles champions. After trading punches in an early-going, Rivers and La Cava, who won the doubles portion of the ITA Fall Regional tournament, broke free from a 3-3 deadlock by breaking twice and holding for a 6-3 first set victory. 

Andrew La Cava, Jr.

With Whitman serving first to start the second set, the two teams held five straight games. Leading 3-2, River and La Cava finally broke thanks to an untimely double fault from Jordan Mayer. After trading holds to make it 5-3, the Missionaries held to win the match 6-3, 6-3. The victory ends half a decade of play-in match frustration for Whitman, which hasn't placed a doubles team in the final draw of eight teams since Matt Solomon and Etienne Moshevich did it in 2007.

Northam said, "James and Andrew were sharp from the outset. I'm really pleased with how well they are playing together and complimenting each other. Both served wel, and they were only broken once the entire match. I felt like Andrew really took control and dictated the tone of the match."

With the victory, Rivers and La Cava will become the #4 seed in the main draw, where they will meet Nick Szczurek and Jackson Isaacs of Emory. The match will take place at 1 PM Central time tomorrow. Follow Coach Northam (@northam) on Twitter for up-to-the-minute results.