WALLA WALLA — The 13th-ranked Whitman men’s tennis team started its Northwest Conference title defense with a resounding 7-2 victory over the Willamette University Bearcats on Saturday.
The Missionaries’ win was the program’s 91st consecutive regular-season triumph over a league foe.
Though the Bearcats are currently ranked 19th in the West region, the Missionaries squashed any thoughts of an upset early.
In the doubles portion, Matt Tesmond and Andy Riggs cruised to an 8-0 victory over Will Cooper and Devin Abney at the No. 2 spot. Colton Malesovas and Noah Lee quickly made it 2-0 Whitman with an 8-1 victory over Jack Schreiber and Shrujan Kalidindi at No. 3. Whitman’s only setback came at the No. 1 position where Sam Sadeghi and Andrew La Cava squandered an early break to lose to Josh Wong and Samuel Wexman in a tiebreaker, 8-9 (3-7).
Taking the 2-1 lead into singles, the two teams sent numbers 1, 3, 5, and 6 outside while the rest of the team stayed inside at the Bratton Tennis Center. The Whit men quickly put the match out of reach. At No. 2 singles, La Cava cruised by Cooper 6-2, 6-2. Sadeghi made quick work of Wexman in a 6-0, 6-1 victory at No. 3. Steven Roston easily dispatched Abney by a 6-0, 6-3 count at No. 4. At No. 5, Schreiber managed to break Riggs while he was attempting to serve out the first set, but Riggs recovered for a 6-4, 6-1 win. Finally, Noah Lee blanked Colin Yamaguchi 6-0, 6-0 at the top spot.
Once more, Willamette’s Wong, ranked 18th in the nation and sixth in the West region, jumped out to a 6-3 4-1 lead on Whitman’s Malesovas. The 10th-ranked sophomore clawed his way back to 6-6 before rain set in during the ensuing tiebreaker. Forced to finish the breaker inside, Malesovas took advantage of a couple Wong errors to level the match. Malesovas proceeded to take an early break in the 3rd set, but Wong rattled off three straight games to take the lead for good in a 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3 win.
The Missionaries play again next weekend when they take to the road for matches against Linfield, Lewis and Clark, and George Fox.