Missionary men open with Texas-Tyler on Friday

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WALLA WALLA — The Whitman College men’s tennis team is bound for Emory College in Atlanta as it begins its quest for an NCAA championship. The 15th-ranked Missionaries (18-6) face Texas-Tyler (19-6) in its opening round match on Friday.

The Patriots are currently ranked 17th and received an at-large bid after losing their conference title match to Texas-Dallas. It is their sixth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament as they tout one of the top singles players in the nation, No. 5-ranked Ryan Ybarra.

The Missionaries are making their seventh straight trip to the NCAAs and boast NWC Player of the Year Colton Malesovas. The Missionaries received an automatic berth after claiming their sixth consecutive Northwest Conference title, winning both their conference championship matches 5-0 and completing a 12-0 conference regular season.

The Patriots clipped the Whits 5-4 earlier this season on a neutral court at UC Santa Cruz, taking a 2-1 lead after doubles and winning Nos. 1-3 singles while the Missionaries swept 4-6.

The Whits will need to win two single-elimination matches to advance to the Round of Eight at the NCAA Championships May 20-22 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Their bracket includes No. 4-ranked Emory, which will take on the winner of the Washington & Lee (No. 21) vs. North Carolina Wesleyan (No. 23) match.

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