by Jessica Razanadrakoto
The Whitworth men’s tennis team ended the 2014 season by winning last weekend’s matchups against visiting Willamette and at Linfield, 8-1 and 8-1.
As Willamette came with only four players, they had to forfeit one doubles match and two singles matches, putting Whitworth up by three right at the beginning.
The Bucs then decided to shuffle the players a little bit. Senior John Talbot and junior Matt Goebel played No. 1 doubles for the first time in the season and edged their opponents, 8-3, with a high first serve percentage.
“We came out a little bit slow,” Talbot said. “The three games [won by Willamette] were in the first five games that we played, and so if we could come out like how we were playing in the second half of the match, we could have won 8-0, maybe.”
Seniors Troy Patterson and Dustin McConnell in No. 2 doubles earned the same score as No. 1 doubles.
Sophomore Drew Brigham won a lot of aces from setting strong serves against his No. 1 singles opponent and won the match, 6-2, 6-2.
“I wasn’t playing awesome off of my groundstrokes, but my serve came through and kind of helped me go, and stay ahead in the match,” Brigham said. “I had a lot of aces, and not very many double faults, so that was good. When you’re serving well, you get pumped up, and everything else kind of just follows.”
Though Brigham said he was all fired up from those aces, he said he believes that he needs to be a little more consistent because he missed a lot of backhands, Brigham said.
Sophomore Blake Miller left his No. 2 singles opponent with only one game, 6-0, 6-1.
Junior Chris Engelmann in No. 3 singles came from behind in the first set, but got the ball deep, was consistent, attacked the shorter balls and ended up defeating his opponent, 6-4, 6-1. Engelmann considered his opponent to be a crafty player, as the Bearcat messed with his mind while constantly bouncing the ball for a long period of time, Engelmann said.
“I did my best. I played with the tools I had, with the best of my abilities,” Engelmann said. “I felt like I could have treated the court a little bit better with my groundstrokes, but overall, it was a hard-fought match and he pushed me.”
The only point for the Bearcats came from No. 4 singles when Whitworth freshman Shane Sandlin had to forfeit because of an ankle injury.
On Saturday afternoon, the same players played together in No. 1 doubles and won with the same score as they did with their matchup on Friday. In No. 2 doubles, Patterson paired up with sophomore Drew Adams but lost, 8-4.
Only two doubles were played, as Linfield only traveled with five players. This gave the Pirates two points in hand before the match even started.
Sophomore Blake Miller edged his Wildcat opponent in No. 3 singles, 6-1, 6-0 with aggressive and consistent play.
“I lost to the that guy the last time we played,” Miller said. “I knew coming into both matches that I needed to take an early lead and take advantage of big points early in the match. I did that really well both days.”
The Pirates won the rest of the singles matches, when the three Pirate seniors, McConnell, Patterson and Talbot played their last matches of their college careers.
The Bucs finish 8-10 overall and 7-5 in the NWC.
“[Winning the last two matches of the conference] is a really good feeling; especially coming after a couple of losses,” Miller said. “The whole team, more or less, we all got a lot of good wins. We really dominated these two last matches, which is really good for next year.”