SANTA CRUZ, Cali. — The No. 13 Whitman men’s tennis team started their Spring Break off the right way Sunday morning with an 8-1 victory over the 16th-ranked Pomona-Pitzer’s Sage Hens.
Later in the day, the Missionaries suffered a memorable 5-4 loss to No. 20 Texas-Tyler.
“In 20 years of coaching, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a match quite like this one,” Whitman coach Jeff Northam said. “This team is special. The team support for each other up and down the lineup is unreal.”
Against the Patriots, UT-Tyler jumped out to an early lead when Ryan Ybarra and Daniel Brown cruised by Matt Tesmond and Andy Riggs, 8-2.
Whitman’s Andrew La Cava and Colton Malesovas quickly knotted things up, however, when they trumped UT-Tyler’s Ryan Spencer and Kevin Singer (a former NCAA-qualifying doubles team), 8-2.
The longest doubles match of the day came at No. 3 where Missionaries Steven Roston and Sam Sadeghi dropped an early lead in an 8-5 defeat at the hands of Ramon Martinez and Johnathan Karsten.
Despite trailing 2-1, Whitman got off to a hot start in singles.
At No. 1, Malesovas and Ybarra traded breaks at the onset before settling into their respective serving rhythms. Ybarra made some uncharacteristic errors while serving to stay in the set, and Malesovas capitalized to the tune of a 6-4 victory. The Missionaries also earned early breaks at numbers 2, 4, 5, and 6 singles and appeared poised for a comeback.
At the bottom of the lineup, those breaks turned into sets for Whitman’s Roston, Riggs, and junior Will Huskey.
La Cava was not so lucky at No. 2, however, where Brown saved six set points in recovering from a 2-5 deficit to send the set to a tiebreaker.
Brown took an early lead in that tiebreaker, but La Cava saved two set points of his own before eventually falling 8-6.
While La Cava was just beginning his second set, Riggs was putting the finishing touches on a 6-1, 6-2 win over Tyler’s Daniel Budd to tie things up at 2-all.
Before Whitman could think of taking a lead, the Patriots struck back with second-set victories at No. 1, No. 4 and No. 6, and took the lead again when Sadeghi dropped a 6-2, 6-3 decision to Martinez at No. 3.
Though La Cava was still in the midst of a seemingly endless second set, Huskey knotted the match again by trumping Karsten 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
Once again, the Patriots didn’t take long to strike back. With Malesovas clearly suffering from the effects of back-to-back three-set matches, Ybarra cruised in the third set at No. 1 to put the Patriots on the brink of victory.
With La Cava and Brown still trading blows late in their second set, Roston earned an early 4-0 lead in the third set of his match with former Patriot No. 1 Ryan Spencer.
But Spencer managed to break Roston once and had an opportunity to earn the second break back with Roston serving at 5-3. Whitman’s junior answered with three points to close out his 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win.
While Roston was closing out his three-set victory, La Cava was still nearing the end of his second set. Whitman’s three-time all-American saved double-digit break points throughout the set and earned a break at 4-4 only to get broken in return while serving for the second.
One game later, La Cava served to stay in the match and played a phenomenal game to force a tiebreaker. La Cava opened up a 4-0 lead and eventually won, 7-4.
Brown and La Cava began their third set with the team match tied at 4-4. Both combatants were visibly hampered by long days of tennis, but, unfortunately for Whitman, it was the Patriot who prevailed in the third, winning 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-2 to close out the 5-4 victory for the Patriots.
Against Pomona-Pitzer, what initially looked like a marquee match quickly turned into a rout, as the Whits showed little to no ill-effects from their lack of outdoor tennis experience.
In doubles, Pomona-Pitzer got on the board first when their team of Frankie Allinson and Max Sabel recovered from an early break to oust Riggs and Tesmond, 8-6 at the top slot.
Sadeghi and Roston leveled things shortly thereafter with an 8-5 win over Thomas Low and Connor Hudson at No. 3.
At No. 2, La Cava and Malesovas triumphed over Kevin Wei and Chris Weichert, 8-6, in a doubles match that featured eight breaks of service to give Whitman a 2-1 edge.
In singles, La Cava extended Whitman’s lead to 3-1 by beating Hudson, 6-4 6-1, at No. 2.
One spot lower, Sadeghi handed Pomona’s Thomas Low just his second loss of the year and moved Whitman to within a match of victory in a 6-4, 6-3 win. Roston clinched the match for Whitman by beating Allinson 7-6 (3), 6-2.
With the team victory in hand, Whitman’s remaining singles players never took their foot off the gas pedal. First-year Noah Lee was next off with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Pomona-Pitzer’s Kevin Prescott.
Riggs made it 7-1 Whitman by staving off a spirited second-set charge from Wei to win 6-1, 7-6 (4).
Whitman’s Malesovas broke Pomona-Pitzer’s Sabel in the first game of the match and appeared to have a good handle on the senior’s game in the early going.
Sabel flipped the script quickly, however, and worked his way to a 6-4 first-set victory. He parlayed that momentum into a 5-2 second-set lead.
That’s when Malesovas began his dramatic comeback. Whitman’s Texan saved seven match points in breaking back twice to take the second set 7-5, sending the match to a deciding 10-point tiebreaker. The players worked their way to a 4-4 deadlock early in the breaker, but Malesvoas reeled off four straight points and finally ended the match with a monstrous forehand.
The Missionaries play No. 11 UC Santa Cruz on their home courts at 2:30 p.m. today.
Whitman 8, Pomona-Pitzer 1
Allinson/Sabel (P-P) def. Riggs/Matt Tesmond (WC) 8-6
La Cava/Malesovas (WC) def. Chris Weichert/Wei (P-P) 8-6
Sadeghi/Roston (WC) def. Low/Hudson (P-P) 8-5
Colton Malesvoas (WC) def. Max Sabel (P-P) 4-6, 7-5, 10-7
Andrew La Cava (WC) def. Connor Hudson (P-P) 6-4, 6-1
Sam Sadeghi (WC) def. Thomas Low (P-P) 6-4, 6-3
Steven Roston (WC) def. Frankie Allinson (P-P) 7-6 (3), 6-2
Andy Riggs (WC) def. Kevin Wei (P-P) 6-1, 7-6 (4)
Noah Lee (WC) def. Kevin Prescott (P-P) 6-1, 6-3
UT-Tyler, Whitman 5-4
Ybarra/Brown (UT-T) def. Riggs/Matt Tesmond (WC) 8-2
Malesovas/La Cava (WC) def. Spencer/Kevin Singer (UT-T) 8-2
Karsten/Martinez (UT-T) def. Roston/Sadeghi (WC) 8-5
Ryan Ybarra (UT-T) def. Colton Malesovas (WC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Daniel Brown (UT-T) def. Andrew La Cava (WC) 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-2
Ramon Martinez (UT-T) def. Sam Sadeghi (WC) 6-2, 6-3
Steven Roston (WC) def. Ryan Spencer (UT-T) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
Andy Riggs (WC) def. Daniel Budd (UT-T) 6-1, 6-2
Will Huskey (WC) def. Johnathan Karsten (UT-T) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2