Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Mens’ tennis brings home NWC title

On Saturday the Men’s Varsity Tennis team earned their first Northwest Conference (NWC) title since 2004, with strong victories over both Willamette and Pacific Lutheran University (PLU).   The wins cemented the team’s ranking as No. 20 in the nation.

“We were undefeated in conference play this season, so there certainly were some expectations to win the championship,” junior Captain Justin Hayashi said.  “Last year we were in the same situation and made the mistake of being too overconfident and ended up losing in the conference finals.  This year we didn’t take the conference tournament for granted and came out strong in all of our matches.”

A No. 1 seeding for the NWC advanced Whitman to the semifinals where they managed to pull out a 6-3 win over Willamette.   Despite a slow start in doubles, the Missionaries finished the round strong winning five of six singles matches, moving them into the championship round against defending champions PLU.

Bouncing back from their weak start against Willamette the previous day, the men came out strong against PLU, sweeping all six matches in singles.

“I’m really proud of the way guys stepped up, especially in singles,” Coach Jeff Northam said in a summary of the match on the team’s Web site. “Losing just one set in singles is a nice accomplishment.   This team is still relatively young with a lot of sophomores and freshmen, and [the match with PLU] is the first time this season we played with great intensity from start to finish.”

Setting the tone for the team’s victories were doubles pair Matt and Daniel Solomon, who ground out an 8-2 victory at No. 1 doubles.

“In the finals, we came out with aggression and determination and played very, very well,” said Matt Solomon, a sophomore who plays No. 1 singles.

Following their lead came a win with an identical score from Hayashi and sophomore Justin Fellows at No. 3.   Six more wins in the singles matches clinched the title for the Whitman men.

“It made me so proud to watch all of our guys come together and play well to achieve one of our biggest goals,” Solomon said.

The title will give Whitman an automatic bid into NCAA Division III playoffs.   The team is excited and optimistic about the upcoming competition.

“There is no doubt that we have the talent to compete with some of the best teams in Division III,” said Matt Solomon.   “We showed in the NWC tournament that if we play focused, determined tennis we can achieve great things and play some top-notch tennis.”

According to Hayashi, the Whitman team will be facing off against Redlands, University of Santa Cruz, or Claremont-Mudd, all of which he says are ranked in the top 12 in the nation.
“We have some tough competition ahead of us,” Hayashi said.

Yet, despite what he knows will be challenging matches, Hayashi is confident in the team’s abilities.

“I honestly believe our team can take down any team in the nation,” he said.  “We just all have to click at the right time.”

No matter how the men’s tennis team does in the playoffs, a strong returning roster will give them a strong foundation to build upon for next season.

“One of the great things about our team is that we are only losing two players for next year, and only one starter,” Solomon said.   “Hopefully we will be just as competitive, if not more competitive, as we will be able to play guys with a lot of collegiate experience under their belts.”

Hayashi agreed with Solomon: “Our next season should be even better as our players continue to mature and develop their games.”

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