Whit men reassert themselves

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BEAVERTON, Ore. — After a somewhat disappointing first day at the USTA/ITA Fall Regional on Saturday, the Whitman men’s tennis team returned to the court on Sunday to reassert their dominance.

Whitman players found themselves opposite George Fox Bruins in four out of the eight round of 16 matches, and won all four in straight sets.

Andy Riggs made quick work of former Bruin No. 1 Preston Mann in a 6-0, 6-1 victory.

Steven Roston toughed out a two-hour 6-2, 6-1 win over Sean Aldrich.

James Rivers cruised into the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Andy Tweet.

Meanwhile, Colton Malesovas fell into an early hole against Justin McClain before finding his game with McClain serving for the set at 5-4. Malesovas didn’t lose a game from there on out, and eventually won 7-5, 6-0.

Outside of the Whitman-George Fox matches, Whitman’s Andrew La Cava, fresh off his 100th victory, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Pacific’s Brandon Schlack.

The match of the morning, however, goes to Sam Sadeghi and Josh Wong of Willamette. Wong started off the match by breaking Sadeghi’s serve to go up 2-0, but the wily senior broke back immediately, and the two combatants held their service games all the way into the tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, Wong broke free from a 2-2 deadlock and won five consecutive points to take the set.

The second set played out much like the first, as the two players held their first eight service games. At that point, however, Sadeghi made some uncharacteristic errors that allowed Wong to serve for the match.

Sadeghi played a brilliant game down 4-5, however, cracking several forehand winners to level the set at 5-5.

Unfortunately, Wong responded with a brilliant return game to take a 6-5 lead, giving himself another chance to serve for the match.

This time, Wong capitalized to take the set and the match, 7-6 (2), 7-5.

With his victory, Wong advanced to the quarterfinals where he met Roston and won, 6-2, 6-4.

In the semifinals, Wong will face Andy Riggs, who came back to oust teammate James Rivers in the quarters.

The other all-Whitman quarterfinal turned the NWC tennis world on its head, as Colton Malesovas picked up where he left off in the morning’s match to stun top-seeded Andrew La Cava 6-4, 6-3.

Malesovas faces Giancarlo Battaglia in the semifinals.

Battaglia toppled two tough Bruins in his singles matches today to advance to the semis.

Whitman freshmen Noah Lee and Alex Noyes breezed through their back draw matches and will meet in the finals of the consolation bracket.

Continuing with the trend from yesterday, Whitman’s two singles semifinalist failed to match last year’s dominating performance during which all four semifinalists were Missionaries. Also continuing with the trend from yesterday, the advanced parity in the singles draw had no bearing on Whitman’s doubles dominance.

After advancing four teams to the quarterfinals yesterday, three of four were able to advance to the semis. 2nd seeds Andrew La Cava and James Rivers took out their singles frustrations on an overmatched Whitworth doubles team, winning 8-1. Their semifinal opponents were teammates Noah Lee and Steven Roston, who advanced to the semis by coming back from a 2-4 hole to upset the #4 seeds, Justin McClain and Chris Lilley of George Fox 8-4. Roston and Lee couldn’t maintain their torrid play; however, as La Cava and Rivers broke in the first game en route to an 8-1 win.

On the other side of the draw, Matt Tesmond (Cincinnati, OH) and Andy Riggs advanced to the finals in dramatic fashion. The #3 seeds jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a 5th-seeded team of Sean Aldrich and Preston Mann from George Fox, but they immediately surrendered both breaks, as the George Fox team quickly closed to 5-4. Riggs and Tesmond broke again to take a 7-4 lead, but the feisty Bruins broke back once more to pull within 7-6. Fortunately, the Missionary duo upped their intensity with the match on the line and broke Mann’s serve to win the match 8-6.

Their semifinal oppoenets were top seeds Troy Zuroske and Giancarlo Battaglia of Pacific. The Boxers advanced to the finals by beating 5th-seeded Sadeghi and Malesovas. In that match, the Boxers jumped out to an early two-break lead thanks in large part to several doubles faults from the Missionaries. Sadeghi and Malesovas immediately responded, however, breaking to draw within 2-3. The teams then contested a long deuce game in which the Whitman duo had a break point to even the score. Unfortunately, the Boxers were able to hold, and used that momentum to break the Missionaries once more. That deficit was too much for Sadeghi and Malesovas to overcome against two of the biggest servers in the conference. They pulled within 6-7 before Zuroske served out an 8-6 victory.

The semifinal was less competitive. After getting broken in the first game, Tesmond and Riggs put everything together to reel of six straight games against the #1 seeds during a stretch in which Tesmond exhibited why he is an ITA doubles All-American. Both he and Riggs executed textbook doubles, crossing at will on their service games and lobbing their returns with finesse. The Boxers broke the streak by holding to make it 6-2, but Tesmond and Riggs held then broke to set their date with Rivers and La Cava in the finals.

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