HILLSBORO, Ore. – Attempting to equal a Northwest Conference record, the 15th-ranked Whitman Blues will go for their 10th straight championship against a determined trio of conference opponents in the NWC Men's Tennis Tournament this Saturday-Sunday, Apr. 22-23, at Whitman's in Walla Walla, Wash.
Saturday's semifinals begin at 10:00 a.m. with top-seeded Whitman taking on fourth-seeded George Fox University, followed by second-seeded Lewis & Clark College against third-seeded Pacific University (Ore.). The two winners will meet Sunday at 10:00 a.m. for the crown, with the champion receiving the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III National Tournament in May.
The official NWC Tournament page with the schedule, links to live statistics and results, and other information is available on the Whitman athletics web site at http://athletics.whitman.edu/sports/2017/4/17/2017-nwc-tennis-tournament.aspx.
2017 NWC Tournament Schedule
Saturday, Apr. 22 - Semifinals
Match 1: 10:00 a.m. - #1 Whitman vs. #4 George Fox
Match 2: 2:00 p.m. - #2 Lewis & Clark vs. #3 Pacific (Ore.)
Sunday, Apr. 23 - Championship
Match 3: 10:00 a.m. – Winner of M1 vs. Winner of M2
No. 1 Seed: Whitman Blues (22-6, 12-0 NWC)
vs. George Fox (1-0): @ W 9-0
vs. Lewis & Clark (1-0): @ W 7-2
vs. Pacific (2-0): W 8-1, @ W 8-1
If the Blues can pull off the NWC Tournament win this week, they will tie the conference record for consecutive titles of 10 by Pacific Lutheran University from 1976-85 (pre-tournament days). Whitman has participated (and won) all six of the previous NWC Tournaments under the current four-team format, starting in 2011. Whitman owns 26 NWC titles overall dating back to its first one in 1927. The Blues are No. 15 in the Oracle / Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings and No. 4 in the West Region rankings. In regional singles, Zach Hewlin is ranked No. 7 and Petar Jivkov is No. 19. Two Whitman doubles teams are regionally ranked: Jake Hoeger and Robert Carter are No. 8 while Jivkov and Hewlin are No. 10. The Blues, whose roster runs 17 deep, have seven players with double-digit wins in singles in dual matches, led by Gary Ho's 15-4 record mainly at #5 and 6. Carter is 13-5 at #4, and Daniel Foster is 13-6 at #5. Hewlin is 10-9 at #1 and Jivkov is 11-6 at #2.
No. 2 Seed: Lewis & Clark Pioneers (13-4, 11-1 NWC)
vs. George Fox (2-0): W 8-1, @ W 8-1
vs. Pacific (2-0): @ W 5-4, W 5-4
vs. Whitman (0-1): L 2-7
Lewis & Clark has won three NWC championships in1966 (shared with Whitman), 1969, and 1971. The Pioneers are making their fourth appearance in the NWC Tournament under the four-team format, all in the last four years. Lewis & Clark is ranked No. 29 in the ITA national rankings and No. 7 in the West Region. Pios in the regional singles rankings include Raed Attia at No. 23 and Michael Brewer at No. 25, with Brenden and Gordon Barrows at No. 15 in the region in doubles. Top winners in dual match singles for the Pios are Jackson Powell (11-2 at #4), Gordon Barrows (11-4 at #3), and Brenden Barrows (11-4 at #5), while Michael Brewer is 10-4 at #2 and Ben DeLuca is 9-4 at #6. In doubles, Powell and DeLuca are 12-2 at #3, Attia and Brewer are 11-4 at #2, and the Barrows brothers are 8-8 at #1.
No. 3 Seed: Pacific Boxers (11-7, 8-4 NWC)
vs. George Fox (2-0): W 8-1, @ W 7-2
vs. Lewis & Clark (0-2): L 4-5, @ L 4-5
vs. Whitman (0-2): @ L 1-8, L 1-8
Pacific owns two shared NWC championships (1964 with Whitman, 1991 with Willamette). With this year's appearance in the NWC Tournament, the Boxers will have participated in all seven conference playoffs under the current four-team format. Pacific is No. 10 in the West Region rankings, with singles players Clark Wininger and Oscar Wight ranked No. 9 and No. 24 respectively. Wininger and Wight are also No. 7 in the region as a doubles pairing. Record-wise, Wight at #2 and Reuben Mulhern at #3 and 4 are both 10-4 in dual math singles, while Wininger is 9-5 at #1 and Josh Bernstein is 9-7 across #2, 3 and 4. Wininger and Wight are 11-4 at #1 doubles and Mulhern and Bernstein are 8-4 at #2.
No. 4 Seed: George Fox Bruins (9-8, 7-5 NWC)
vs. Lewis & Clark (0-2): @ L 1-8, L 1-8
vs. Pacific (0-2): @ L 1-8, L 2-7
vs. Whitman (0-2): L 0-9
George Fox, which joined the NWC in 1995, is seeking its first conference crown. The Bruins are returning to the NWC Tournament following a one-year absence after playing in four straight playoffs from 2012-15, their only appearances under the four-team format. George Fox is rated No. 13 in the West Region, and Spencer Watanabe is ranked No. 6 in singles. Watanabe won the Pacific Northwest Fall ITA Regional in singles, and teamed with Alex Namba to win the Fall Regional doubles as well. In singles, Watanabe has a 15-2 record in dual matches at #1, with Namba 9-8 at #3 and Matt Biggi 8-8 at #2. Watanabe and Namba are 9-7 at #1 doubles.