Men’s tennis sweeps Regional Championships

Garrett Atkinson

The Whitman tennis team opened in dominant fashion at the USTA/ITA Regional Tournament held at the Whitman tennis courts from Sept. 19 to 22. Members of the team placed first and second in the singles and doubles tournaments, and Whitman featured five of the final eight competitors in the singles tournament. Yet, according to sophomore tennis player Jakob Dewitt-Hoeger and winner of the doubles tournament, the team hoped for even better.

“We wanted a Whitman semi-final in doubles and we got that in one of the pairings, and then we had to beat a Pacific team that was good [in the other pairing],” said Dewitt-Hoeger.

The expectations for the Whitman tennis team could hardly be higher based on the success the team experiences year in and year out. In fact, the team has not lost a conference game in close to 100 matches. Although the in-conference competition has not proved too challenging for Whitman, the relentless success does prompt in-conference foes to gun for Whitman. However, such motivation did not prove sufficient to break Whitman’s stronghold on the tournament.

Colton Malesovas '15 serves the ball. Photo by Emily Volpert.
Colton Malesovas ’15 serves the ball. Photo by Emily Volpert.

Even though the championship match in singles and doubles did exclusively features Whitman athletes, it still held plenty of surprise. The singles championship pitted senior Colton Malesovas against first-year Zach Hewlin. It took three hard-fought sets, but Hewlin managed to defeat Malesovas (6-4, 4-6, 6-2). Despite the result, Hewlin remained cautious to draw any definite conclusions.

“I had a luckily easier draw up to that point. Whereas [Malesovas] kind of had a few longer matches, I had a withdrawal,” said Hewlin. “I played a set on Monday morning and got a withdrawal after that, which limited my time on the court, so I was more rested.”

Nevertheless, Hewlin expressed optimism that the result of the match might inspire the players on the team.

“Hopefully we all feel that we can break through at any time,” he said.

Head Men’s Tennis Coach Jeff Northam also noted that it was still early in the season, but performances like Hewlin’s demonstrated the strength of the recruiting class. He also pointed to the success of other incoming players, noting that all but one won a first or second round match. Coach Northam indicated that this kind of success did not surprise him based on the ability of the younger players.

The doubles tournament also featured a surprising result, in which Hewlin and his partner Dewitt-Hoeger handed Malesovas and senior James Rivers their first defeat of the year (4-6, 6-4, 10-8).

The success of Dewitt-Hoeger and Hewlin will lead them to South Carolina the week after next to compete in a tournament against players from across the nation. Following the competition, the two will rejoin the rest of their teammates as they approach the off-season. Last year, the Whitman tennis team finished as the 12th-ranked team in the nation.

Dewitt-Hoeger said that this year’s goal is to finish in the top 10.

“We’re all super excited in the Whitman camp right now,” said Dewitt-Hoeger.