In a word, the Whitman College women's and men's tennis teams aced this season. Both squads advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship tournament in Claremont, California, in May. Jeff Northam '88 took home Northwest Conference (NWC) Coach of the Year honors for the eighth time as leader of the men's team. And Zach Hewlin '18, an economics major, earned a spot in the NCAA singles tournament in Chattanooga, Tennessee; the 2016 All-American also repeated as NWC Player of the Year.
"I am so very proud of these programs, as they exemplify the best of what we strive for in excellence on the court and in the classroom," said Athletics Director Dean Snider.
The 24th-ranked women's team volleyed their way to glory with a dramatic comeback over Linfield College to become NWC champs and head to the national contest. The 15th-ranked men's team nabbed the NWC crown and a similar invitation by besting Lewis & Clark College. The Blues women and men bowed out in their first matches in the NCAA tournament to East Texas Baptist University and Trinity University, respectively.
The women's team soared to 11-1 in league play. They earlier netted conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances from 2012 to 2015 under John Hein, who since arriving to Whitman for the 2008-09 season also has collected three consecutive NWC Coach of the Year awards (2013-15) and four total. The men's team has rallied for 10 straight conference titles and 12 overall since Northam took the helm in 2000. Their 24 victories this season tied a program best from 2008-09 and included a perfect 12-0 in league competition. Snider praised the two as "teachers, mentors and role models."
A member of Whitman's men's tennis team has been voted NWC Player of the Year 13 times since 2000, including in each of the past eight years. For the women's team, it has been six times during that same period, with four in a row from 2012 to 2015. In that last year, Courtney Lawless '15 from the women's team and Colton Malesovas '15 from the men's team became the league's first three-time winners.