Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 3
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Men’s tennis faces rival PLU

Nadeem Kassam, '10, won matches at No. 1 doubles and No. 2 singles in Whitman's second match against Whitworth on Sunday, April 5. Credit: Jacobson.
Nadeem Kassam, '10, won matches at No. 1 doubles and No. 2 singles in Whitman's second match against Whitworth on Sunday, April 5. Credit: Jacobson.

As the tennis season draws to a close, the men’s team eagerly awaits next weekend’s match against second place Pacific Lutheran University (PLU).

Arguably one of the most heated rivalries in the Northwest conference, PLU has been Whitman’s biggest adversary in tennis for nearly 30 years. Both teams are ranked high nationally.

“We’ve met them in the tournament final the last few years,” sophomore Etienne Moshevich said. “They are always intense against us, and we like to play against them. In past history, they’ve won more conferences than we have, so it’s nice to take them out.”

In the conference finals, Whitman lost to PLU two years ago, but won last year. In early February, the tennis team beat PLU 8-1.

“I think [our past win] would make the teams more excited to get out and play because we beat them pretty badly the last three times. I know the PLU coaches will be fired up,” said head coach Jeff Northam. “However, [our win] really doesn’t have much of a bearing. That was one of our first matches of the year, and I think it was too early for them. I expect it will be a much closer match the second time around.”

“Our earlier win against PLU definitely gives us some confidence, but we were in this situation before when PLU upset us in the conference tournament two years ago, so we’re definitely going to prepare for this match,” said senior captain Christoph Fuchs.

Even though this match is only a regular season game, it is still equally, if not more, important than any other conference match.

“PLU is our last regular season match before conference, so it’s nice to put a big step on them,” Moshevich said.

“Regular season matches are really important because they set the tone for the season, and it’s good preparation for going into the conference tournament,” Fuchs said. “It’s also good to see where we are in comparison to our competition and to send a message to the other teams that we are playing well this year.”

“They are very important for placement in the tournament. We have three matches left, and if we can win two of the next three matches, that will put us in the number one seat,” said Northam.

With an undefeated season so far, the team wants to end the year on a positive note.

“It would be certainly nice to finish the year 16-0,” Northam said. “It would clearly mean you are the best team going into the conference tournament.”

“There is a strong motivation to stay unbeaten during the season. The team hasn’t lost a regular season [conference] match since I’ve been here, and it’s definitely a thing we’d like to keep up,” said Fuchs.

Because of the long, emotional rivalry against PLU, the match could go to either team.

“We’ve played well against them in the past and beaten them decisively. However, they have the potential to come out fired up and play very well, so we always prepare for a battle   and give our best effort,” said Fuchs.

PLU also boasts many talented tennis players, including one of the best players in the conferences who has not lost to anyone in conference this spring. Northam also warns that PLU becomes stronger near the end of the six matches.

The greatest challenge of all may be the fact that they are playing away.

“Every time you travel it throws you off a little bit,” Fuchs said, “But it depends on the weather. If it’s nice, we’ll play at PLU, and they usually have a big crowd there. But it might rain, and then we would be at a neutral sight, which would definitely be beneficial for us.”

Despite these challenging factors, the team is excited to play their biggest rival.

“[Rival matches] bring out the best matches and the best memories,” Northam said, “when it comes time to play PLU, we are both excited to play. We’ve had some great matches over the five or six years with them, going both ways.”

The Men’s and Women’s Northwest Conference Tournament is scheduled for April 17-18 in Yakima, Wash.

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