WALLA WALLA - The Whitman College tennis teams are headed to the Southern California and Atlanta, Ga., areas this weekend for opening round matches in their respective NCAA Division III national championship tournaments.
The Whitman men's team, No. 11 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings, gets a first-round bye as part of a five-team regional in Atlanta and then matches racquets on Saturday with NC Wesleyan, which brings a 16-2 record and No. 19 national ranking to the party.
Emory University is hosting the men's regional on its main campus in Atlanta at the Woodruff PE Center, but the Whitman and NC Wesleyan match - which starts at 2 p.m. EDT Saturday - will take place at Emory's Clairmont campus in nearby Decatur, Ga.
Meanwhile, the Whitman women's team, now 17-4 on the season and No. 29 in the national rankings, heads to Claremont, Calif., for a six-team regional and a first-round match against No. 27 UC Santa Cruz, which is 4-13 on the season.
The Whitman and UC Santa Cruz women play at 3 p.m. today on the campus of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The Missionary women, seeded fifth in their regional, need to win three straight matches to advance through their regional. If they get past Santa Cruz today, they face top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (20-3) in the regional semifinals.
Both second-seeded Whitman and third-seeded NC Wesleyan get first-round byes and then face off in the semifinals.
The national tournament restricts teams to nine players, which means Whitman coach Jeff Northam has whittled his travel roster down to Conor Holton-Burke, Adriel Borshansky, Jeff Tolman, Sam Sadeghi, Matt Tesmond, Andrew La Cava, Steven Roston, James Rivers and Colton Malesovas.
Coach John Hein and a nine-player contingent left Thursday to get ready for today's first-round match against the Banana Slugs.
Making the trip for Whitman's women are Emily Rolston, Charlotte Scott, Alyssa Roberg, Kate Kunkel-Patterson, Hannah Palkowitz, Courtney Lawless, Morgan Lawless, Maddy Webster and Erin Minuth.