WALLA WALLA - More than 60 NCAA Division III tennis players representing all nine Northwest Conference schools gather at Whitman College this weekend for the USTA/ITA Men's Pacific Northwest Fall Championships.
The Whitman tournament, one of nine NCAA DIII regionals taking place around the country, features a 64-player singles bracket and 32-team doubles bracket.
Tournament winners (singles and doubles) advance to the ITA/USTA National Small College Championships, slated for next month in Mobile, Ala.
Play gets underway at 6 p.m. today with a series of four play-in matches to fill the last two spots in the singles bracket.
Six players - two from Lewis & Clark and one each from Whitman, Pacific, George Fox and Linfield - will compete for those last two spots in singles.
Saturday's competition starts at 8 a.m. with first-round matches in singles. Matches in the upper half of the bracket will be played on the Whitman outdoor courts. Bratton Tennis Center will host matches in the bracket's lower half.
After a second round of singles is completed Saturday, two rounds of doubles will follow, starting at about 5 p.m. and continuing throughout the evening. Both the indoor and outdoor courts will again be used.
Consolation bracket matches in singles are also planned after Saturday's first round. They will be played at the Walla Walla Country Club.
Another full day of tennis is planned for Sunday, starting with singles at 9 a.m. and doubles at about 3 p.m. All Sunday matches will take on the outdoor courts.
By the end of play on Sunday, Whitman men's tennis coach and tournament director Jeff Northam hopes to have the championship brackets complete through the singles semifinals and doubles quarterfinals.
The tournament then concludes Monday, starting with the singles semifinals at 10 a.m., to be followed after a short break by the singles championship match.
The doubles final is planned for about 2 p.m.
Two Whitman players, senior Conor Holton-Burke and sophomore Andrew La Cava, are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively. Pacific sophomore Troy Zuroske is the third seed while Willamette senior Cody Ferguson is No. 4, followed by Whitworth senior Daniel Redfern at No. 5 and Whitman junior Jeff Tolman at No. 6.
Rounding out the top seeds are George Fox sophomore Preston Mann at No. 7 and Lewis & Clark freshman Olivier Groot at No. 8.
Eight more players carry No. 9 seeds, including two from Whitman, senior Adriel Borshansky and junior Sam Sadeghi, and two from George Fox, sophomore Justin McLain and junior Shawn Aldrich.
Other nine seeds are Linfield senior Cody Levien, Pacific senior Spencer Hing, Pacific Lutheran junior Taylor Dickey, and Whitworth junior Cameron Williams.
Two Whitman duos are the top two seeds in the doubles bracket. La Cava and Tolman are No. 1 while Holton-Burke and junior Matt Tesmond are No. 2.
Pacific's Hing and Zuroske are the No. 3 seeds with Whitworth's Redfern and Williams filling the No. 4 spot.
Willamette's Ferguson teams with sophomore Vincent Garrett as the No. 5 seeds. Linfield's Levien and junior Zach Lyons are the six seeds.
The last two seeds in doubles are McLain and senior Peter Brown (George Fox) at No. 7 and Groot and freshman Carter Gee-Taylor (Lewis & Clark) at No. 8.
A year ago, when the regional fall tournament was held in Salem, Ore., Whitman's Holton-Burke and La Cava won the doubles title, defeating another Missionary duo, Sadeghi and the now graduated Chris Bailey in the finals.
La Cava edged Holton-Burke for the singles crown.