Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Men’s tennis previews first year talent at tournament

Credit: Jacobson
Credit: Jacobson
With the regular season still months away, the brief offseason interruption known as the Wilson/ITA Pacific Northwest Fall Men’s Tennis Tournament offered a glimpse into the undeniably bright, but still somewhat distant future of Whitman’s team.   In a field that included almost 60 players from seven of the nine teams of which the Northwest Conference (NWC) is composed, Whitman, which went 16-0 in conference play last season, employed a mix of depth, talent, veteran savvy and youthful zeal to reestablish itself as the conference’s preeminent power in front of its home crowd.

“We’re looking to exert our force on the conference early,” said Whitman senior Matt Solomon, who defeated freshman teammate Jeff Tolman in three sets (3-6, 6-2, 6-0) to clinch his third consecutive regional singles title and defend his status as the tournament’s top overall seed.

Credit: Jacobson
Credit: Jacobson
While Solomon and Tolman united to advance to the doubles finals, they were unable to defeat Pacific Lutheran University’s Joel Trudel and Justin Peterson, who departed with a 6-3, 7-5 victory.   However, Tolman, who Whitman coach Jeff Northam claims is “as good of a freshman as I’ve ever had,” upset Trudel, the 2009 NWC Player of the Year and the tournament’s second seed, in the quarterfinals.   Tolman then proceeded to defeat Chris Bailey, the tournament’s number three seed and his teammate, to earn a chance to compete for the title against Solomon, who vanquished fourth overall seed Mark Magdaong in the semifinals (6-4, 6-1.)

Between Solomon, Tolman, Bailey, sophomore Conor Holton-Burke, Whitman seized four of the eight spots in the singles quarterfinals.   While this number, which no other team even approached, is impressive, it appears slightly less so when one considers that Whitman produced seven of the eight quarterfinalists in last season’s tournament.   However, this relative disparity is hardly a cause for concern.   In fact, it is fairly encouraging that the team managed to occupy three of the four semifinalist slots in both singles and doubles without Jake Cappel, Christoph Fuchs, Nadeem Kassam and Etienne Moshevich, four crucial players who were unable to participate for various reasons.

Credit: Jacobson
Credit: Jacobson
Discussing the missing players, Northam stated, “That’s maybe half of our top eight on any given day.   That makes it hard.”

Northam’s excitement preceding the tournament stemmed from more than a craving for utter dominance.   He wanted to see how his team as a whole and especially its lower seeded players and the new additions stacked up against the conference and that chance presented itself to him. While it is clear that Tolman stacks up extremely well against just about anybody, Sam Sadeghi and Matt Tesmond, his freshmen contemporaries also performed encouragingly.

Credit: Jacobson
Credit: Jacobson
Sadeghi and Tesmond each came within one victory of reaching the quarterfinals before losing to Holton-Burke and Willamette’s Matt Houser, respectively.   Collectively, the two reached the quarterfinals in the doubles bracket only to narrowly fall to teammates Holton-Burke and Quinn Miller.   With Tolman, Sadeghi and Tesmond augmenting an already deep and talented team, Northam has ample cause for buoyancy going forward.

In reference to the new recruits and the team more broadly, Northam said, “It’s my twelfth year here, and this is probably the most excited I’ve been about a team.   We’ve got three really solid freshmen,” before adding, “They work very hard and they’re better than I thought they were.”

In the aftermath of the tournament, Whitman now faces an extended interval before meaningful play resumes.   In that time, speculation and anticipation  will run rampant.   When the season does arrive, excitement and expectation will be high.   The team’s performance in the tournament did nothing to delegitimize that fact, although there’s certainly room for improvement.

http://www.whitman.edu/content/mens-tennis/

http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=88079

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