Moshevich, Solomon place seventh in Division III doubles draw

Elsbeth Otto

There are several telltale signs of the strength of the men’s tennis team. Whitman has some of the best indoor facilities of any Division III school in the area and outdoor courts situated right by the center of campus. Also, many evenings in Jewett dining hall, the wall is lined with racket bags and a table is full of somewhere between 15 and 20 male college students in tennis garb eating ravenously. Sophomore Matt Solomon shows his enthusiasm for the game in the Bratton Tennis Center. Solomon and doubles partner Etienne Moshevich placed seventh in the Division III national tournament in Mobile, Ala. | Photo by Ellie Klein

So it may be no surprise to many students on campus that 12 of the top 16 players at the regional tennis tournament were from Whitman, and that Whitman’s top doubles team, Matt Solomon and Etienne Moshevich, placed seventh in the Div III men’s doubles draw at the ITA national tournament in Mobile, Ala.

Solomon and Moshevich earned the trip to Mobile after beating teammates Jasper Follows and Nadeem Kassam in the finals of the regional doubles draw. “The team’s really deep,” said Moshevich. “Anyone can beat anyone at any time within our top four.”

After winning the northwest regional draw, Whitman defeated the champion of the Texas section for a spot in the final draw of eight teams.

“[The Trinity match] was probably our best match,” said men’s tennis coach Jeff Northam. Whitman started out down a break but fought back to win the first set 6-4. ” I thought we were giving away too many free points,” said Northam. “I just told Matt and Etienne to focus on the first couple of shots, getting their first serves in and their returns. Doubles is a lot about momentum; you have to capitalize.”

After beating Trinity in straight sets, Whitman lost to the eventual champions, Middlebury, 6-2, 6-2.

“I definitely could have played better,” said Moshevich. “[Middlebury] was definitely a touch team, but I got tight. I missed a lot of first serves and returns.”

Although the Middlebury loss put Whitman out of running for the championship, Whitman still had a chance to place as high as fifth in the back draw. But their next opponent, Claremont, proved too much.

Moshevich said, “Coach said we could [beat Claremont], but they really played unbelievable tennis.”

That left Whitman in a playoff for seventh and eighth with Vassar. “It wasn’t our best tennis, but we elevated our game in the [third-set] tiebreaker,” said Moshevich. That focus paid off and Whitman defeated Vassar 10-3 in the tiebreaker to take the match, and the title of seventh in the nation.

Despite mixed results, Moshevich described the event as fun. “This was the biggest public tennis facility in the world. There were chair umpires for every match,” Moshevich said. The Copeland-Cox Tennis Center, where the event was held, has 60 courts.

“The event is the only one of its kind,” said Northam about the ITA Small College Championships. “Tennis is the only sport that I know of where a Division III or Junior College player can earn a berth into Division I nationals.” The top players from each Division play off, and the winner receives a spot in the Division I tournament.

Furthermore, the event provides a preview of national competition for men’s tennis. “It’s a shame that only two get to go,” said Solomon. “There’s a lot of myth around some of the other teams, and we’re not far behind.”

Solomon also won the regional ITA singles title, but failed to advance past Trinity to get into the singles draw.

Still, Solomon looks forward. “We have a lot of talent on the team. How we do will depend on how hard we work during the off-season,” said Solomon.

Northam also is ready for the upcoming season. Last year Whitman lost to PLU in the final of their regional and earned a wildcard to the national NCAA end-of-year tournament.

“It’ll be good for us to fly under the radar nationally,” said Northam. “Last year we lost our one, two and three players. This is supposed to be a rebuilding year for us.”