Whitman's La Cava Pushes DIII's Top-Ranked Player to Brink
News Release Date:
Thursday, May 24
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Whitman College sophomore Andrew La Cava gave top-ranked Dillon Pottish all he could handle Thursday afternoon before dropping a 6-4, 6-4 decision in the second round of the NCAA Division III National Singles Championships in Cary, N.C.
Pottish, a senior at Emory who led the Eagles to the national team title earlier in the week, was unable to shake La Cava, who stayed close throughout the first set and then staged a spirited rally in the second.
|Andrew La Cava|
"This match was an absolute war with both players covering the entire court -- from fence to net both players hustled from end to end," Whitman coach Jeff Northam said.
Down 3-1 in the first set, La Cava bounced back with a service break and then stayed within a game of Pottish until the 2012 ITA Senior of the Year slipped free for a 6-4 win in the opener.
Pottish stayed on the attack to start the second set, breaking La Cava once for an early 3-0 lead. After La Cava, the Northwest Conference Player of the Year, rallied to within 3-2, Pottish stretched his advantage to 5-2.
With high humidity and temperatures near 90 degrees creating "really tough conditions for the players," La Cava struggled at times early in the second set, Northam said. But with his "back against the wall Andrew caught his second wind and charged back into the match."
With Pottish getting a bit flustered by his opponent's gritty play and drawing a code violation, La Cava managed a service break to fuel his rally. He also uncorked a trio of "absolutely amazing volleys," Northam said, to save three match points while trimming his deficity to 5-4.
To the dismay of underdogs everywhere, La Cava dropped the next game as Pottish advanced to Friday's quarterfinal round.
Despite the loss, Northam applaued La Cava's "great effort. He electrified the crowd with his amazing shot-making ability and court coverage."
Thursday's match marked the second time this year that La Cava and Pottish matched racquets.
Last October, in winning his second straight Division III singles title at the ITA's National Small Championships, Pottish scrambled past La Cava 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of an eight-player bracket.
That match featured numerous deuce games and was more competitive than the final score indicates, Whitman coach Jeff Northam said. La Cava finished his stay at last fall's ITA tournament with a 2-2 record against the bracket's top-ranked players.
La Cava, who led Whitman to its fifth straight NWC championship earlier this spring, is the first Whittie since 2010 to draw an invitation to the season-ending 32-player NCAA DIII singles championship.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org