NWC Names Roberg, La Cava Players of Year in Tennis

News Release Date:
Friday, April 20, 2012

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Two Whitman College players, junior Alyssa Roberg and sophomore Andrew La Cava, have been named Northwest Conference Players of the Year for women's and men's tennis.

Andrew La Cava
Alyssa Roberg

Roberg is the first Whitman woman to win the award since Paola Vizcaino was a back-to-back winner in 2002 and 2001.

La Cava's selection, on the other hand, marks the sixth time in seven years that a Whitman player has taken home the top men's award.

Throw in Tim Mullin, who was a back-to-back winner in 2002 and 2001, and Whitman athletes have captured men's player-of-the-year honors in eight of the last 12 seasons.

Both Roberg and La Cava are joined on their respective 2012 All-NWC First Teams by two teammates.

Jeff Northam

On the men's side, junior Jeff Tolman and senior Conor Holton-Burke were also voted to the men's first team, while freshman James Rivers was voted to the All-NWC Second Team.

And Jeff Northam, the architect of Whitman's ongoing of men's tennis in the NWC, was named NWC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in the past five years, and for the sixth time since the 2000 season.

Joining Roberg on the women's All-NWC First Team are two of her first-year teammates, sisters Courtney and Morgan Lawless.

Tennis all-conference awards are decided by a vote of the coaches.

For complete lists of the 2012 all-conference awards, click here for the men and click here for the women.

All-NWC: Whitman Women

All-conference honors are nothing new for Roberg, who also made the first team to cap each of her first two seasons at Whitman.

Roberg, who has a No. 2 singles ranking in the West Region, is 11-1 singles this spring, playing most of those matches in the No. 1 slot. She is 8-0 in singles against NWC opponents.

Courtney Lawless

Her conference wins include a handul of straight-set victories over other players on All-NWC First Team. She also pinned a 6-3, 6-1 defeat on Trinity's Mackenzie Knopp -- the region's third-ranked singles player -- during a Spring Break trip to Texas.

Morgan Lawless

Roberg got her junior year off to a good start last fall by winning the singles title at the ITA's Pacific Northwest tournament. She also teamed with Courtney Lawless to win the doubles title.

Roberg was twice named NWC Player of the Week this spring.

Meanwhile, the two Lawless sisters are the only first-year players to earn first-team honors this season.

Courtney Lawless, ranked No. 4 in the West, has been all but perfect in singles. After losing her first match to the No. 1 player at Lewis-Clark State (NAIA), she has reeled off 17 straight victories, winning nine times at No. 1 and eight times at No. 2.

Her 17-1 record in singles includes an 11-0 mark against NWC opponents. She and Roberg are 12-2 at No. 1 doubles; the duo has a No. 3 regional ranking in doubles.

Courtney Lawless was a three-time NWC Player of the Week this spring.

Morgan Lawless has been just as impressive this season, posting 14-4 records in both singles and doubles. She has bounced between the No. 3 and No. 2 spots in singles while winning 12 of 13 decisions against NWC foes.

Most of her wins in doubles have come with senior Emily Rolston in the No. 2 spot.

With Roberg and the Lawless sisters playing at the top of the line-up, the Whitman women finished second in the final regular standings. That is their highest finish since 2007.

All-NWC: Whitman Men

La Cava, making the All-NWC First Team for the second time in two years, added Player of the Year honors this spring while spending a good part of this season in the highly competitive No. 1 singles spot.

Headed to the post-season, La Cava is 12-4 in singles overall and 6-0 in conference matches. He is No. 3 in the regional singles ranking and No. 7 at the national level.

La Cava has victories this spring over three players on the All-NWC First Team. He also knocked off players from Eastern Washington (NCAA DI) and Lewis-Clark State (NAIA), in addition to scoring big wins over players at three top-tier NCAA DIII programs -- Mary Washington-Baylor, Kalamazoo and Whittier.

Jeff Tolman

La Cava launched his sophomore year in grand style last fall, winning the singles title at the ITA's Pacific Northwest regional tournament for a second straight year. He then won two of four matches against the top-seeded players at the National Small College Championships.

La Cava, a two-time NWC Player of the Week this spring, is 19-4 in doubles while playing most of his matches with Tolman in the No. 2 slot. La Cava is 11-1 in doubles against conference opponents.

Tolman made the All-NWC First Team for the second time in three seasons. He was voted to the Second Team as a sophomore.

Conor Holton-Burke

Tolman is 13-3 in doubles and 8-3 in the No. 2 singles spot. He is No. 10 in the regional singles rankings, and he teams with La Cava for a No. 7 ranking in doubles.

Tolman's big wins in singles this season came against UC-Santa Cruz, Rhodes and Whittier. He and La Cava also tallied a doubles win against NCAA DI Montana.

Holton-Burke made the All-NWC First Team for a second straight season after being named NWC Player of the Year in 2011. He is 14-6 in singles this spring, winning eight times at No. 3 and five times at No. 1. His conference singles record is 9-1, which includes victories over two other players on the all-conference first team.

Holton-Burke and junior Matt Tesmond have played most of the season at No. 1 doubles, building records of 12-7 overall and 8-1 in the NWC while earning a No. 6 regional ranking. The duo also won the doubles title at last fall's ITA Pacific Northwest tournament.

James Rivers

This spring, Holton-Burke contributed wins in singles and/or doubles to a handful of key non-conference victories that helped Whitman climb tin the regional and national rankings. He was twice named NWC Player of the Week in recent months, and he holds a No. 18 regional singles ranking.

Rivers made an immediate impact this season as a freshman, earning All-NWC Second Honors while registering a 15-4 record in singles (8-1 NWC). He played most of his matches at No. 4 singles, going 8-2, but he also has a combined record of 7-1 at No. 2 and No. 3 singles.

Teaming most of the season with junior Sam Sadeghi, Rivers is 15-5 in doubles. That includes a 9-1 record in NWC matches.

In winning his sixth NWC coaching award, Northan was recognized for guiding Whitman to its best season in more than two decades.

Whitman won 19 straight matches at one point this season, rising to No. 1 in the West Region and No. 8 at the national level. Those are the program's highest rankings since the late 1980s.

With Northam at the helm, Whitman won its fifth straight NWC title and completed its sixth consecutive undefeated conference season. It has stretched its regular season NWC winning streak to 90 matches.

Northam has nearly 250 dual match victories in his 15 seasons as a full-time coach at Whitman. He played on three NWC title teams at Whitman in the 1980s.

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