Whits compete in 111th Ojai Valley tennis tournament

Andrew La Cava and Conor Holton-Burke represent Whitman at the California tournament.

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OJAI, Calif - Whitman's Andrew La Cava and Conor Holton-Burke competed here in the 111th Annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament.

La Cava earned his way to Saturday's round of 16 with two match wins in the NCAA Division III singles bracket on Friday. La Cava faced top-seeded Brian Pybas, a senior at UC-Santa Cruz Saturday morning, and was unable to bounce back from a slow start.

Pybas raced to a 6-0 win in the first set and then held off La Cava to take the second set 6-4.

Pybas is the top-ranked singles player in the West Region, and he joins UCSC teammate Parker Larsen to form the top-ranked doubles team in the region.

After subduing La Cava Saturday morning, Pybas won again on Saturday in the singles quarterfinals to advance to this morning's semifinals.

Pybas and Larsen also won a pair of Saturday matches in the doubles bracket, advancing to today's 3:30 p.m. title match.

They will face Jeff Hammonds and Keven Wong, a Redlands duo that edged La Cava and Holton-Burke in the opening round of doubles Friday.

In other Friday action, Holton-Burke was eliminated from singles play after he dropped a first-set tie-breaker en route to a two-set loss.

In Friday doubles play, Holton-Burke and La Cava were unable to bounce back from a slow start, and dropped their close first-round decision.

Wong and Hammonds, two seniors at No. 16 University of Redlands, outlasted the Whitman duo 9-8 (7-4) in a match played at Moranda Park in Port Hueneme, Calif.

Holton-Burke and La Cava, the top doubles team for No. 21 Whitman, fell behind 5-2 to start the match but then rebounded to even the score at 5-5.

After the two sides traded service breaks for a 6-6 stalemate, Holton-Burke and La Cava scrambled for service breaks to stay in the match at 7-7 and 8-8.

Wong and Hammonds, a veteran tandem, regained command in the tie-breaker to pick off the victory.

La Cava, Holton-Burke and their Whitman teammates return to dual match action when they host Lewis-Clark State in a 1 p.m. non-conference match Saturday.

Whitman won its fourth straight Northwest Conference title earlier this month to earn a spot in the NCAA DIII national championship tournament for a fifth consecutive year. The first round of the national tournament is set for May 14. Whitman will not learn its first-round assignment for several more days.

The Ojai tournament has numerous men's and women's brackets in the junior, collegiate and open ranks, and is played on more than 100 courts at 30-plus locations throughout California's western Ventura County.

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