Whitman Hosting Northwest Conference Men's Tennis Tourney
News Release Date:
Thursday, April 19, 2012
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- The five-time Northwest Conference champion Whitman College men's tennis team shoots for a spot in its sixth straight NCAA Division III national championship field when it hosts the annual NWC post-season tournament this weekend.
Whitman earned the right to host the four-team tournament by finishing atop the regular season standings with a 12-0 record, continuing an era of dominance now measured in years rather than weeks or months.
Whitman has stockpiled six consecutive undefeated NWC regular seasons, winning its last 90 matches. The winning streak began in April of 2006.
Pacific enters this weekend's tournament as the No. 2 seed after posting an 11-1 NWC record during the spring season. The lone blemish on the Boxer record was a 7-2 loss to Whitman in early March in Forest Grove, Ore.
Third-seeded George Fox (9-3 NWC) and fourth-seeded Whitworth (8-4 NWC) complete this weekend's tournament field.
Saturday's first semifinal gets started at 10 a.m. and pits favored Whitman against underdog Whitworth (click here for match preview). Whitman and Whitworth are the only two schools to play in all 14 NWC tennis tournaments since the conference adopted a team championship format in 1999.
Saturday's second semifinal, which starts at about 2 p.m., matches No. 2 Pacific against No. 3 George Fox (click here for a match preview). Pacific is making its second straight appearance in the post-season tournament while George Fox is competing for the first time since 2005.
Saturday's winners meet at 11 a.m. Sunday to play for the NWC's automatic berth in the NCAA DIII national championship field. Whitman has already won the 2012 NWC title by virtue of its first-place finish in the regular season standings.
Whitman, 19-4 on the season, enters the tournament as the top-ranked NCAA DIII team in the West Region. It also has risen to No. 8 in national ranking, its highest such position in more than two decades.
Whitman, which has yet to lose to an NCAA DIII team this season, is a combined 5-0 this spring against the other three tournament teams. In addition to its 7-2 victory over Pacific, it blanked Whitworth 9-0 and beat George Fox twice, 9-0 and 6-3.
Pacific, No. 11 in the latest regional rankings, is 13-2 against NCAA DIII teams this spring. Its only DIII loss (other than to Whitman) came in a 8-1 setback to Colby during a Spring Break trip to Florida.
Pacific, 13-5 overall this season, has one victory apiece over both George Fox (winning 5-4 in mid-March) and Whitworth (prevailing 8-1 in early March).
George Fox, 10-7 on the season and No. 12 in the regional rankings, has beaten Whitworth twice this spring, winning 7-2 in early March and 5-4 just last week. Whitworth is 11-8 overall.
Fans of all four teams can disregard those earlier results once the tournament gets underway, says Whitman coach and tournament host Jeff Northam.
"Those of us with the Whitman program look forward to playing, and we know the other three teams -- Pacific, George Fox and Whitworth -- are playing well as they come into the conference tournament," Northam says. "All three teams are legitimate contenders to represent the NWC at the NCAA Division III tournament in May."
Matches start with three flights of doubles before moving into the six flights of singles. Each match ends as soon as one team scores the clinching fifth team point.
This season marks the second year that NWC has used a four-team tournament to award its automatic berth in the national championship tournament.
Prior to last year, the top six teams advanced to the post-season tournament, which also was used to decide the conference championship.
Tennis fans not able to watch this weekend's matches in person can access a Live Tennis Blog for scoring updates as doubles and singles matches play out.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; email@example.com