The men’s tennis team split their two matches this weekend at home against Pacific University and Willamette University, ultimately knocking the Bucs out of playoff contention in the Northwest Conference. Whitworth lost 6-3 Saturday in a hard-fought match against Pacific University inside the Scotford Tennis Center.
“Pacific played just a little bit better than us today,” Coach Mike Shanks said. “They have some real quality players, but we are making progress, as we lost 8-1 and did not win any of our doubles matches when we played them away.”
Whitworth started off the day winning two out of their three doubles matches, but had a disappointing singles performance, winning only one of six matches. Junior Drew Brigham and sophomore Shane Sandlin won their No. 1 doubles match 8-6, while sophomore Caleb Hughes and junior Drew Adams won their No. 3 doubles match in a 9-8 tiebreaker.
Hughes also started at the No. 6 spot in singles and pulled off a win in three sets after losing the first one.
“I feel like I am playing adaptable tennis, as I am able to play different opponents in different ways, and figure out how to beat them,” Hughes said. “Today it was important for us to keep the positive energy going, and continue to focus on one point at a time.”
Although Hughes was the only Buc to win in singles, the matches were much closer than the final team score suggested. Adams started at the number four spot and lost a heartbreaker in three sets, while Brigham started at the number one spot and lost a hard fought match to Giancarlo Battalgia, a senior who is undefeated this year, and who Shanks said, “will probably win the Northwest Conference player of the year.”
On Sunday, Whitworth blew out Willamette 8-1 at the Scotford Tennis Center. The Bucs started off the day by sweeping the Bearcats 3-0 in doubles, and then won 5-1 in singles, with half of the matches played outside on a windy day.
“In doubles, we were really aggressive. We saw our opponents weaknesses and took advantage of them,” junior Blake Miller said. “In singles it was different playing outside with the wind, but I definitely got my rhythm more in the second set.”
Miller started off the day with a dominant performance in doubles partnered with Matt Goebel, winning 8-1. In singles, Miller dropped the first set, but came back to win 6-3 in the second set, and finished the match off with a 10-2 win in the tiebreaker.
After losing Saturday, Brigham came back with a dominant win in straight sets on Sunday, while Hughes continued his winning run by winning in straight sets without dropping a game in the process. Sophomore Jeffrey Vulis and freshman Ryan Adams got their first starts of the season in singles, and both had assertive performances winning in straight sets.
Vulis is a transfer student from University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, who was battling a back injury in the first half of the season.
“The support of my teammates and the fans definitely helped me during the match,” Vulis said. “I did well with being patiently aggressive, waiting for my proper moment to come in and attack.”
The Bucs play again at home on Wednesday, April 15 against Lewis and Clark State.