The Pirate men’s tennis team finished the regular season this past weekend, earning a victory against Lewis & Clark College on Friday but losing a close contest to George Fox University on Saturday at the Scotford Tennis Center.
The Pirates also played a couple of non-conference matches earlier in the week — an exhibition match against the Community Colleges of Spokane and a home match against Lewis-Clark State College where Whitworth fell 9-0.
“It’s a lot of matches but we still have to go out and play,” sophomore Dustin McConnell said. “At this level you need to be prepared for the long matches and do the best you can to fight through.”
Whitworth finished the regular season with an 8-4 Northwest Conference record and an 11-8 record overall. The Bucs will take on Whitman next weekend in the first round of the Northwest Conference Tournament in Walla Walla, Wash.
“Playing Whitman is always fun because they’re always a challenge,” junior Cameron Williams said. “We gained some information last time we played them and developed some strategies around that. Now we want to implement that and finish strong.”
Whitworth started off the week with an exhibition match on Monday April 9 at the Community Colleges of Spokane. Whitworth played most of its reserve players in the exhibition, which ended in a 4-4 tie.
“We got to see guys play that don’t normally get to,” Williams said. “It’s exciting to watch them succeed on the on court.”
The day after the CCS match, the Bucs took on the Warriors of Lewis-Clark State College, falling 9-0 to the NAIA foes.
Two singles matches went to the third set, including No. 1 singles player Daniel Redfern who fell 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. The other was freshman Chris Engelmann who lost in No. 5 singles 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Two of the three doubles matches were within four games of each other as well, but the Warriors were too much for the Pirates.
On Friday the Pirates went back to finish up the regular season conference schedule when the team defeated Lewis & Clark College 7-2.
Redfern and junior Micah Spaun came through in the first match of the day as the two beat out the Boxers No. 1 doubles team 9-7.
“I felt really good about how we played doubles on Friday,” Redfern said. “It felt good to get that win considering how close it was.”
The two teams split the first four contests but Whitworth responded with five straight singles wins to close out the match. No. 2 singles player Spaun and McConnell, playing No. 3 singles, each won their matches decisively, both beating their opponents 6-1, 6-2.
The Pirates closed out the regular season at home on Saturday with a close 5-4 loss to the Bruins of George Fox University.
Redfern and Spaun had another close doubles match, this time coming up just short in a 9-7 loss.
“We lost a pretty tough one on Saturday,” Redfern said. “We almost had the match, but we lost a little momentum towards the end.”
After taking a 3-2 lead in the match, the Bruins took the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 singles contests, dooming the Pirates. Cameron Williams had one of the more inspiring wins in the match. Williams took the first set 6-4 against the No. 2 Bruin singles player but fell behind early in the second.
“I sat down with my coach and he had me focus on my breathing,” Williams said, after being down 4-1 in the second set. “It loosened me up and got me back in my groove.”
Williams came back and won the set 7-5, his eighth singles win of the year.
The Pirates will have a week to prepare for Whitman College, the eighth-ranked team in the nation. This is a rematch of the contest that was won by the Missionaries 9-0 on March 31.
“Personally I’m looking forward to playing their No. 1 (singles) player again, he’s the best in the conference,” Redfern said. “We also have a new lineup for the match so we’ll see how that goes.”
The match will be played at the Bratton Tennis Center at Whitman College on April 21.
Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer
Photography by Hope Barnes (Top) and Greg Moser (Bottom)
Contact Nathan Webber at email@example.com.