Men's tennis ends 2015 season with UPS and PLU victories

The men’s tennis team ended the season by shutting out both the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University at home last weekend. Whitworth swept Puget Sound 9-0 Saturday, in what turned into a one-sided victory outside at the Scotford Tennis Center.

“For both doubles and singles we had a rough season not getting into the top four of conference,” junior Drew Brigham said. “So today we had a desire to prove that we are better than our No. 5 ranking.”

Brigham started off the day with an 8-1 win in his doubles match partnered with senior Matt Goebel, and then dominated his singles match, winning both sets, 6-1. The Bucs swept through their matches with ease, winning all three of their doubles matches and not dropping a single set in any of their six singles matches.

The Bucs were knocked out of the playoffs with their loss to Pacific University last week, so the competition last weekend had no bearing on their playoff hopes. The win bumped Whitworth up to 5-6 in the Northwest Conference, and dropped Puget Sound’s Conference record to 0-12.

Sophomore Shane Sandlin also had a dominant performance, winning his doubles match with junior Drew Adams, 8-2, and his singles match in two quick sets.

“In doubles, my first serve percentage was important, while in singles, I focused on hitting to my opponent’s backhand, since he had a very powerful forehand,” Sandlin said. “I think my consistency has gotten better throughout the season as I have been focusing on not going too big when I don’t need to.”

Whitworth blew out PLU, 9-0, in their final match of the season with Senior Day on Sunday at the Scotford Tennis Center.

“In doubles, Drew and I were really aggressive and attacked the net well, while in singles I focused on hitting it to my opponent’s backhand, attacking and hitting winners,” Goebel said. “It’s going to be different leaving Whitworth. I’ve made a lot of good friends and had a lot of great experiences, but I’m looking forward to the next big adventure to see where life takes me.”

The Bucs started the day with three quick doubles win, as Goebel won his match partnered with Brigham, 8-1, while junior Blake Miller and sophomore Caleb Hughes won their doubles match, 8-2. The Bucs then swept PLU, 6-0, in singles- every single match won in straight sets except for Brigham’s win in a tiebreak.

Adams won his singles match, 6-0, in both sets, while Goebel, Hughes, and Miller also had fairly comfortable matches. Sandlin also continued his run of success with a convincing win in straight sets.

Goebel was not the only senior to finish his Whitworth career today, as fellow senior Chris Engelmann cheered on his teammates on the sideline, while continuing to recover from a knee injury.

“These are two seniors that for the rest of our lives I can easily call friends,” Coach Shanks said. “They weren’t just players. They will leave an indelible mark on the fabric of this team for years to come.”

 

Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

 

Men's tennis finishes weekend on a Willamette win

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.

 

Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

Men's tennis competes against Whitman, unable to secure first win

The men’s tennis team fell to Whitman 7-2 Saturday on the outside courts of the Scotford Tennis Center. “I told the team that I feel happy with the way they played, as we came away with a couple matches against a nationally-ranked Whitman,” assistant coach Cameron Williams said. “However we don’t feel content, since we have a lot of expectations for our team.”

Whitworth went down 2-0 in their doubles matches before senior Chris Engelmann and junior Drew Adams won their doubles match 9-8 in a tiebreaker. The match kept the Bucs within striking distance going into singles play. This was the pair’s first doubles win of the season.

“Chris and I have had a lot of close doubles matches this year, so it was nice to finally finish one,” Adams said. “I thought we were consistent and made them play really well, forcing them to finish plays.”

No match is easy against conference-leading and defending-champion Whitman, and the Missionaries showed that in their singles play. Whitworth lost every singles match, except for senior Matt Goebel’s dominant contest with Goebel winning in straight sets.

“In singles today I was good at being consistent and kept the ball deep while keeping my opponent moving,” Goebel said. “Overall we played well today, putting in good rallies in doubles and getting smart points.”

Along with Goebel’s win, the other big highlight of the day was Adams’ and Engelmann’s doubles match. The pair had to come up with a win to keep Whitworth alive, and they did so in a nail-bitter.

The crowd was drawn into the match and erupted whenever Engelmann or Adams smashed home a big point. The crowd went even wilder when the pair won a point at the net to put the match away.

“Drew and I are a good combination, since I have a lot of power while he has great finesse,” Engelmann said. “Our styles complement each other, so we need to continue learning to play with each other to get our chemistry.”

Whitworth is still searching for its first win this season, but they have faced some tough competition at the start, and suffered a tough loss to George Fox. However, the coaches see the team improving with every match, and are confident that they can turn these positive results into wins.

“The most tangible goal is where we land in conference, so we want to finish top four so we can make the conference tournament,” Williams said. “We need to know when to go for big shots and when to be patient.”

Whitworth plays again next weekend in Tacoma, Washington against the University of Puget Sound on Saturday, and Pacific Lutheran University on Sunday.

 

Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

Men's tennis loses two more on road

The men’s tennis team lost both their matches on their trip to Oregon where they competed against Pacific University on Saturday and George Fox University on Sunday. Whitworth fell by a final score of 8-1 against Pacific in Forest Grove, Oregon.

“I think what happened is that we couldn’t break through at really big times,”  coach Mike Shanks said. “We played a little bit ‘not to lose’ opposed to aggressive at times.”

The Pirates lost all their doubles matches, and lost all but one singles game, as senior Matt Goebel won in a tiebreaker. However, the score was not as one-sided as the box score made it appear.

Junior Blake Miller and sophomore Shane Sandlin both had extremely close losses in three sets in their respective singles matches, while senior Chris Engelmann and junior Drew Adams lost their doubles match 9-7.

“We played hard today as a team, so we need to work on playing with the same intensity, but also hitting big shots at big times,” Engelmann said.

The Pirates are a team that Shanks said without a doubt has great potential. They need to keep working on playing with the correct mindset and that if the team starts playing with more confidence they are going to start winning much more, Shanks said.

Goebel was one player that reflected that potential, winning his singles match and losing 8-5 in his doubles match.

“I have to say that Matt Goebel was the standout performer of the day,” Shanks said.

On Sunday, Whitworth fell in a heartbreaker to George Fox 5-4 in Newberg, Oregon. The stakes were especially high for this matchup, as the two teams only meet once this season, unlike most other matches where the scores are aggregated from the two home and away competitions.

“It’s frustrating to lose 5-4, but it is such an improvement from the way we played against them last year,” Sandlin said.

The final results literally came down to a few points, which left players such as Sandlin feeling disappointed. However, the players and coaches saw major positives to take away from the team’s performance.

Junior Drew Brigham and Sandlin won their doubles match 9-8, and their respective singles matches. Adams also came up with a blowout win in two sets in his singles match.

The team improved greatly from their average performance against Pacific, with a much better effort on Sunday.

“I don’t know what happened last night, but something happened and today we came out to play,” Brigham said.

The team recognizes its progress as the matches go by, and they are staying focused on being positive and working on their game every day, Brigham said. Matches like these are reflecting the results.

“We’ve never come that close to beating George Fox,” Brigham said. “That is proof we can be a contender this year in conference.”

 

Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

Men's tennis falls in second contest

Whitworth fell to Lewis-Clark State 7-2 Saturday in Lewiston, Idaho, for their last team match before beginning conference play this weekend. “We played hard and gave a lot of effort today, which explains why all of our matches were so close,” senior Chris Engelmann said. “The doubles matches were all within one break, and the singles matches were mostly close as well.”

Senior Matt Goebel won his doubles match with junior Blake Miller 8-6, and also won his singles match in straight sets. Junior Drew Brigham and Engelmann also had good performances but lost in straight sets after starting at the No. 1 and 2 spots respectively.

Brigham said he felt he stepped his game up compared to the week before, where he did not feel as sharp as he usually does. Brigham was content with the fact that he was hitting difficult shots while remaining accurate, he said.

“We have been playing really good teams at the start of this season to get us up for the oncoming games,” Brigham said. “Being in close matches is a good confidence booster going into conference play.”

The Pirates will begin Northwest Conference play next weekend when they travel down to Oregon to face Pacific and George Fox.

The coaches and players are both positive about the 2015 season, as they see high potential and talent on the team. Assistant coach Cameron Williams has high hopes for the upcoming season as well.

“In the start of our season we always play local teams to warm up for conference play,” Williams said. “Based on what us coaches have seen in the past few weeks, this is our greatest start ever.”

The team is hoping to improve on their fifth-place finish in conference last year, knowing their will be many challenges in a talented group of Northwest Conference teams. However, the coaches have seen promising play from the teams’ under and upperclassmen.

“Tennis is a lifetime sport, so there are always things you can be working on everyday in practice,” Williams said. “Our team chemistry is really good this year, so we are excited to see what the season brings.”

 

Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer