WALLA WALLA - NCAA Division III schools in the Pacific Northwest have been hosting their own USTA/ITA Fall Championship tournament since 2006, and Whitman College tennis players have won the men's singles title every year since then.
That won't change today when the 2011 regional tournament crowns its next champion at the close of a three-day run on the Whitman campus. The only four players left standing on Sunday, after completion of the third and fourth rounds, were wearing Whitman colors.
Conor Holton-Burke, the tourney's No. 1 seed, plays Jeff Tolman, the No. 6 seed, in one of today's semifinals.
The other semifinal pits Andrew La Cava, the No. 2 seed, against ninth-seeded Sam Sadeghi.
The semifinal matches start at 10 a.m. on the outdoor Whitman courts, weather permitting. Plan B, in case of rain, is Whitman's Bratton Tennis Center and its indoor courts. The two semifinal winners then meet at about 12:30 p.m. for the singles title and a ticket to next month's National Small College Championships in Mobile, Ala.
Today's final tournament match - the doubles final - is set for about 3 p.m. and also stands as an all-Whitman affair.
Sunday's doubles play narrowed the field to a showdown between Conor Holton-Burke and partner Matt Tesmond on one side and Tolman and La Cava on the other.
Action in singles resumed Sunday morning with the Round of 16 and continued through the quarterfinals.
Holton-Burke, after starting with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Willamette's Jack Schreiber, ousted George Fox's Shawn Aldrich in a 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 battle. Aldrich grabbed his quarterfinal spot with an earlier 6-2, 6-0 win over Tesmond.
La Cava, the tournament's defending singles champion, notched a 6-1, 6-3 victory over George Fox's Justin McClain and then got past one of his own teammates, Colton Malesovas, 6-4, 6-4.
Malesovas advanced to the quarterfinals by scoring a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Whitworth's Cameron Williams earlier in the day.
Tolman started his Sunday with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Willamette's Garrett Vincent. He then outpointed freshman teammate James Rivers 6-4, 6-3. Rivers had earned his quarterfinal spot earlier in the day with a three-hour 7-5, 7-5 victory over teammate Adriel Borshansky.
Sadeghi worked his way past two of his teammates on Sunday, first beating Will Huskey 6-3, 6-1 before sidelining Steven Roston by the same score in the quarterfinals. Roston notched a nice upset in his first Sunday match, beating fourth-seeded Cody Ferguson of Willamette by scores of 6-3, 6-2.