SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Winning its 13th straight match, the Whitman College men's tennis team kicked off its Spring Break swing through California in impressive fashion with a 6-3 victory over Pomona-Pitzer here Saturday afternoon.
Now 14-1 on the season, Whitman won two of three close decisions in doubles and then captured four of six battles in singles. Four of the singles matches went to three sets with each side winning two.
The Sagehens, losing for only the second time in nine matches this season, entered Saturday's showdown ranked No. 17 in Division III, with Whitman ranked No. 26.
"This was a great win for us," Whitman coach Jeff Northam said. "We're savoring this one. This is our first victory over a top 20 team in the last two years."
Whitman seized early command with 8-5 victories at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles.
While Matt Solomon and Etienne Moshevich were getting the best of Uday Singh and Frankie Allinson in the top spot, Christoph Fuchs and Quin Miller were beating Tommy Meyer and Alex Groth in the second slot.
Pomona-Pitzer salvaged a team point at No. 3, where Max Sabel and Grant Friedman slipped past Whitman's Jake Cappel and Jeff Tolman 8-6.
Matt Solomon and Jeff Tolman, playing at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, won their first sets before eventually losing in three.
"Both Matt and Jeff were also up a service break in their third sets," Northam said. "They couldn't quite finish off their matches, but they were also up against very good players."
Solomon lost 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Meyer while Tolman fell 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 to Singh.
The first two singles matches to finish, however, came at No. 3, where Moshevich knocked off Allinson 6-4, 6-2, and at No. 4, where Chris Bailey decisioned Groth 7-5, 6-2.
"Hats off to Etienne and Chris," Northam said. "Their two wins gave us a 4-1 lead in the team scoring, which really put the pressure on Pomona-Pitzer in the remaining matches."
No. 1 and No. 2 singles were the next to finish, trimming Whitman's lead to 4-3.
But Conor Holton-Burke tallied the clinching fifth point for Whitman with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 comeback at No. 6 singles. Jasper Follows also rallied at No. 5 singles for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 triumph to complete the scoring.
"I couldn't be more proud of Conor and Jasper," Northam said. "Christoph wasn't able to go in singles because of his leg injury, so this was a day when neither Jasper nor Conor knew where they might be playing in singles. They both came through for us when we needed it."
Although Saturday's win was a big one, Whitman has little time to celebrate. Next up is a Sunday doubleheader against two Division III teams that can lay claim to being the best in the nation.
Whitman starts this morning at 9 a.m. with Cal Lutheran, which is 11-0 to start its season after edging No. 1-ranked and defending national champion UC-Santa Cruz by a 5-4 count on Saturday.
Whitman and UC-Santa play later this afternoon.