Whitman Shootout set this weekend at Bratton Tennis Center

The Missionaries welcome several powerhouses to town for the men's tennis tournament beginning Friday morning.

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WALLA WALLA - Tennis fans can watch tons of talent hit the courts this weekend as the Missionary men's tennis team hosts the Whitman College Shootout at Bratton Tennis Center.

A total of seven matches, four of them involving Whitman, comprise the schedule.

Other teams in town to shoot it out are NCAA Division I Montana, NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC) and two of Whitman's NCAA DIII rivals, University of California-Santa Cruz and George Fox.

Whitman, which lost its spring season opener two weeks ago to NCAA DI Eastern Washington, plays this weekend's first match, squaring off with LCSC at 11 a.m. Friday.

LCSC, ranked No. 20 in the NAIA Top 25 preseason poll, is off to a 3-1 start.

Friday's other match starts at 4 p.m. and pits LCSC against UC-Santa Cruz. That will be the first match of the spring season for the Banana Slugs, who are ranked No. 6 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll.

On Saturday, Whitman battles Montana at 9 a.m. The Grizzlies are off to a 1-1 start after beating Idaho State in late January while losing to the University of Utah.

Montana then returns to the courts at 1 p.m. Saturday to face UC-Santa Cruz.

Whitman and the Banana Slugs wrap up Saturday action with a 6 p.m. match.

George Fox, one of Whitman's Northwest Conference rivals, gets Sunday going with an 8 a.m. match against UC-Santa Cruz.

The final match of the weekend pits Whitman and George Fox against one another at noon.

Whitman, the four-time defending NWC champion, is ranked No. 29 nationally in NCAA DIII to start the season.

Whitman is No. 6 in the West Region while UC-Santa Cruz is No. 2 in regional rankings.

Whitman's last match against the Banana Slugs came in the regional semifinals of the national championships in May of 2009. UC-Santa Cruz won that match 5-0.

Whitman also played Montana earlier that spring, losing 6-1.

Whitman played LC-State twice last season with each side posting 6-3 victories on its home court. In the two seasons previous to last year, the two teams played once each spring with Whitman prevailing 5-4 in both cases.

Sunday's match between Whitman and George Fox serves as the NWC opener for both schools.

Whitman has won its last 78 regular season matches against NWC opponents.

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