Andrew Goodwin|Sports Editor
The Whitworth Pirates struggled on the road last weekend against George Fox and Lewis and Clark, both of whom expect to compete for a Northwest Conference title.
The Bucs dropped both of their matches, losing 5-4 to the Bruins and 9-0 to the Pioneers. Both teams ranked in the top half of the conference in the coaches preseason poll.
In the weekend opener, George Fox defeated two of Whitworth’s three doubles teams and put the match away by winning the top three singles matches.
Three Pirates won their singles matches on Saturday to make the match close for the Bucs, but earlier losses already sealed the fate of the match. Whitworth’s highlights of the match came from a pair of freshmen. Ben Bethards defeated George Fox’s Jacob Farmer in a 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (8-6) thriller, and his brother Jake defeated Ryan Malinowski 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8).
Jake Bethards went undefeated on the day. He and Caleb Hughes, ‘17, were the lone doubles team to pick up a Whitworth victory. The pair defeated Malinowski and Davin Lee 8-6.
Sunday’s matches didn’t work out much better for the Bucs, who found themselves behind 3-0 after doubles play. Lewis and Clark’s closest win came in a 9-7 set over the combination of Ian Fisher, ‘18, and Ben Bethards.
In singles play Whitworth’s struggles continued. Though Jake Bethards, Fisher, Hughes and senior Shane Sandlin each competed for victories, the Bucs came away winless on Sunday.
Next week, Whitworth returns home to face another tough opponent in Whitman, the returning conference champion. The match will be on Saturday at 10 a.m. After taking on the Blues, the Bucs will continue their weekend against Skagit Valley College at 8 a.m. on Sunday and Spokane Community College at 4 p.m. on Sunday.