WALLA WALLA - The University of Montana, picked to finish second this season in the Big Sky Conference (NCAA Division I), posted an 8-1 victory over Whitman College Saturday morning at the Bratton Tennis Center.
While the final score was a bit one-sided, Whitman - ranked No. 29 nationally in NCAA Division III - held its own in most of the matches.
Whitman scored its lone team point at No. 2 doubles, where junior Jeff Tolman and sophomore Andrew La Cava notched a 9-7 victory over Ethan Vaughn and Michael Facey.
Senior Conor Holton-Burke and junior Matt Tesmond dropped an 8-4 decision at No. 1 doubles to Mikolaj Caruk and Andrew Warren.
Junior Sam Sadeghi and freshman James Rivers lost 8-5 at No. 3 doubles, falling to Ben DeMarois and Carl Kuschke.
In the No. 1 singles match, La Cava gave Kuschke, a senior from Johannesburg, S. Africa, all he could he handle. Kuschke finally prevailed 5-7, 6-1, 11-9.
Caruk, a sophomore from Warsaw, Poland, also had his hands full at No. 2 singles, where he scrambled past Tolman 7-6 (8-6), 7-5.
Whitman sophomore Will Huskey lost a three-set battle at No. 5 singles, falling 6-3, 4-6, 10-7.
Colton Malesovas, a Whitman freshman, surrendered a razor-thin 7-6, 7-6 decision to DeMarois at No. 6 singles.
Sophomore Steven Roston played at No. 4 singles, losing 7-6 (7-0), 6-3 to Facey. Sadeghi completed Whitman's singles line-up at No. 3, falling 6-1, 6-0 to Andrew Warren.
Whitman slipped to 0-3 on the season after losing to an NCAA Division I school for the second time in the past few weeks.
Its other loss came yesterday in a 5-4 setback to NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State.
Whitman returns to the frying pan at 6 p.m. tonight when it plays UC-Santa Cruz, which holds a No. 6 national ranking in NCAA DIII.
A total of seven matches, four of them involving Whitman, are taking place at the Bratton Center through Sunday as part of the Whitman College Shootout.
Montana, 2-1 on the season after downing Whitman this morning, stayed on the courts to battle UC-Santa Cruz in an afternoon match.
Sunday's action pits Santa Cruz against George Fox at 9 a.m.
Whitman and George Fox then play a Northwest Conference counter at noon.
Whitman, the defending four-time NWC champion, has won its last 78 regular season matches against conference foes.