WALLA WALLA - A lost service game early in the first set proved costly, as Whitman College senior Matt Solomon dropped a 6-4, 6-2 decision to Williams College senior Nick Lebedoff in the opening round of the NCAA Division III National Tennis Singles Championship Tournament Friday.
The 32-player singles tournament, at Ohio's Oberlin College, continues through Sunday.
"It was a thrill to be invited to this tournament, but I definitely didn't play my best (Friday)," Solomon said. "This obviously wasn't the outcome I was expecting and wanted."
The difference in the first set came early, when Solomon dropped his first service game. After that the two players held serve until Lebedoff finished off his 6-4 first-set victory.
"I kept trying to change tactics to get back into the match, but I felt a little off my game the whole way," Solomon said. "I felt good from a physical standpoint, but I wasn't hitting through the ball as well as I can."
Solomon, a senior, is one of seven West Coast players and the only one from the Pacific Northwest invited to the singles championship.
He has played No. 1 singles for Whitman since his sophomore season and led Whitman to a third consecutive Northwest Conference title this spring. He is a two-time NWC Player of the Year and was named the 2010 winner of Whitman's R.V. Borleske Trophy, which is presented annually to the top male athlete on campus.