WALLA WALLA — The Whitman men’s tennis team raised the Northwest Conference Championship trophy for the sixth straight season as the Missionaries defeated George Fox in the tournament final Sunday at the Whitman outdoor courts, 5-0.
The 15th-ranked Missionaries (18-6) earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
On another blustery day, the Missionaries grabbed the early lead at No. 3 doubles when Sam Sadeghi and Matt Tesmond broke the Bruins’ Preston Mann and Drew Milton early and went on to win 8-3.
The second “W” for the Whits came at No. 1 doubles as the Missionary duo of Colton Malesovas and Andrew La Cava battled Sean Aldrich and Justin McClain.
The Bruins broke the Whitman duo to take a 5-4 advantage, but Malesovas and La Cava broke right back to regain the edge, 7-6, before winning their third straight game to end the contest, 8-6.
Andy Riggs and Steven Roston fought off a late rally to defeat Chris Lilley and Peter Brown, 8-3.
In singles, Malesovas breezed to a 6-2, 6-0 victory over McClain at No. 1 to put the Missionaries on the doorstep of the title. At the No. 2 slot, the Bruins’ Lilley broke La Cava late in the first set on his way to winning it 7-5. Riggs, playing in the No. 3 slot, won his first set against Aldridge, 6-2, and Sadeghi claimed the first set, 6-3, against Mann at No. 4.
La Cava battled back to take a 2-1 lead in the second set against Lilley. Riggs owned a 4-1 advantage over Aldrich in their second stanza, but it was Sadeghi who would clinch the title for the Whits. Down a game early in the second set, Sadeghi took the lead 4-3 and outdueled Mann to win out 6-3, 6-4, bringing home the title with a hard forehand cross-court winner.
When the match was called, Whitman’s Roston held a 5-0 advantage over Milton in their first set.
The victory brings Whitman its eighth conference title under the leadership of coach Jeff Northam, who is in his 20th season at the helm of the Missionary program.
Whitman 5, George Fox 0
SINGLES — Colton Malesovas, Whit, def Justin McClain, GF, 6-2, 6-0; Andrew La Cava, Whit, vs. Chris Lilley, GF, 5-7, 2-1, unfinished; Andy Riggs, Whit, vs. Shawn Aldrich, GF, 6-2, 4-1, unfinished; Sam Sadeghi, Whit, def Preston Mann, GF, 6-3, 6-4; Steven Roston, Whit, vs. Drew Milton, GF, 5-0, unfinished.
DOUBLES — Andrew La Cava/Colton Malesovas, Whit, def Shawn Aldrich/Justin McClain, GF, 8-6; Steve Roston/Andy Riggs, Whit, def Chris Lilley/Peter Brown, GF, 8-3; Matt Tesmond/Sam Sadeghi, Whit, def Preston Mann/Drew Milton, GF, 8-3.