NEWBERG, Ore. — Demonstrating that they are not yet ready to relinquish their claim to Northwest Conference men’s tennis supremacy, the Whitman College Missionaries dispatched the upstart George Fox University Bruins, 7-2, to break a tie for first between the two Saturday night at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center’s main indoor courts.
Whitman, ranked No. 13 in the NCAA Division III and No. 6 in the West Region, took the No. 1 and 3 doubles in quick fashion. Andrew La Cava and Sam Sadeghi downed the Bruins’ Shawn Aldrich and Chris Lilley 8-2 at No. 1, and Colton Malesovas and Steven Roston dispatched Preston Mann and Drew Milton, 8-1, at No. 3.
The No. 2 doubles, though, went down to the wire. Justin McClain and Peter Brown of George Fox, ranked No. 11 in the West Region, were up 6-3 and then 7-6 over Andy Riggs and Matt Tesmond, with McClain serving for the match. The Whitman duo broke back, however, and went up 8-7 on their own serve. Brown served the Bruins to a win to even it 8-8, but the Missionaries secured a sweep of the doubles by winning the tiebreaker, 7-3.
The Missionaries took five of the six singles in straight sets, but the No. 3 singles was a down-to-the-wire nailbiter between Lilley and Sadeghi that took over two hours to play.
Lilley captured the opening set 7-6 (7-5) before Sadeghi evened it with a 6-2 win. Sadeghi took a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker before Lilley rallied to go up 6-4.
It was 8-8 when Lilley broke the final tie by returning Sadeghi’s serve to his backhand with a drop-volley that the Missionary hit into the net as he raced forward.
Lilley then finished off the win after a long rally with a sideline angled shot for the 10-8 tiebreaker that gave the Bruins their only win.
In the other singles, it was Malesovas over McClain 6-3, 6-1 at No. 1; La Cava over Aldrich 6-2, 6-2; Roston over Mann 6-4, 6-1 at No. 4; Riggs over Milton 6-1, 6-2 at No. 5; and Noah Lee over Brown 6-1, 6-4 at No. 6.
George Fox fell to 3-3 overall and 3-1 in the conference, while Whitman improved to 4-1 overall and 4-0 in the NWC.
The Missionaries earlier in the day had drawn even with the Bruins by defeating Lewis & Clark College, 9-0.