Missionary men go for sixth-straight NWC tennis title

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WALLA WALLA — Seeking its sixth-straight Northwest Conference title, the Whitman men’s tennis team hosts the conference championships this Saturday and Sunday as the No. 1 seed after posting its seventh-straight perfect conference record of 12-0.

Under the leadership of coach Jeff Northam, the Missionaries have won 101-straight regular-season conference matches.

The winner of the four-team single elimination tournament this weekend receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament May 20-25, in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The Missionaries (16-6) will face No. 4-seed Pacific at 1 p.m. Saturday in the first semifinal, with No. 2-seed George Fox taking on No. 3 Pacific Lutheran at 5 p.m.

The championship match will be held Sunday at noon.

All matches are scheduled for the outdoor courts, weather permitting, but will be moved inside to the Bratton Tennis Center if the conditions dictate.

Injuries to key players forced Whitman to juggle its lineup throughout the season, with players seeing action at a variety of spots.

Sophomore Colton Malesovas, the No. 10-ranked player in the nation, has been steady at No. 1 (8-8) and has been successful in doubles with more than a handful of partners.

Steven Roston (15-4), Sam Sadeghi (11-8) and Andy Riggs (16-3) have all been named NWC student-athletes of the week, along with Malesovas, during the spring season.

James Rivers, who has been sidelined most of the season while recovering from a shoulder injury, has made his way back to the courts and figures to be a factor in the tournament.

Andrew La Cava (11-8), who has been dealing with a back injury, will be inactive this weekend.

In their run for the regular-season crown this season, the 15th-ranked Missionaries only surrendered a total of eight points (individual matches) while winning over 100.

For tournament updates and results, visit the NWC Tennis Championships page on the Whitman website, http://www.whitman.edu/whitman-athletics/2013-nwc-tennis-championships.

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