by Caleb Mathena
The men’s tennis team went one for two in their Northwest Conference openers last weekend against Lewis & Clark and George Fox.
The Bucs, looking to improve on their 6-11 record from last season, fell to the Lewis & Clark team 7-2 on Saturday after three close doubles matches, which all ended 9-8 after tie breakers.
Seniors Drew Adams and Drew Brigham, the No. 1 doubles pair for the Pirates, were defeated despite an impressive comeback. Starting the match 1-4, Adams and Brigham won seven of the following 10 games to reach an 8-7 lead before their 8-9 loss.
“Early on, all the points were close,” Adams said. “We were still getting to deuce, but they were winning some of those points at the net and so we just started trying to be more aggressive and more assertive. I thought we did that better as the match went on.”
Senior Blake Miller and junior Jhun Gumboc were also down 3-2 early on in their match. The pair was able to fight back to a one-game lead for most of the match, but lost it at the very end.
Juniors Caleb Hughes and Shane Sandlin were the only winning pair for the Pirates, managing to claw their way back from a three-game gap.
Like their counterparts, the No. 3 duo was also behind 1-4 in the early stages of the match. They were unable to gain much ground until the ninth game when they won three out of the next four, putting them in the lead.
Out of the six singles matches, the Pirates won only one. Brigham beat his opponent 6-4 in the first set and 6-3 in the second.
“Personally, I feel like I served really well, which helped carry me through and gave me a solid base,” Brigham said. “I also really tried to attack his backhand, coming into the net behind it and closing out the points that way.”
Achieving an opposite result from the previous day, the Bucs won two out of three doubles matches on Sunday against the George Fox Bruins. The strong start combined with a much improved singles performance gave the Pirates what they needed for their final 6-2 victory.
Brigham and Adams lost their first match of the day 8-2 to a nationally ranked George Fox pair. After losing the first two games of the match, the duo came back to win two out of the next three games, putting the score at 3-2. But the Bruins answered by taking the last six games of the match.
“We knew we had an uphill battle [on court one] today,” head coach Mike Shanks said, “but our No. 2 and 3 guys really picked it up. Our number three is really strong for a three team and that No. 2 team really broke through. We’ve been waiting for them to jell a little bit, so that was good to see.”
No. 2 doubles pair Miller and Gumboc came out with an early 2-1 lead. The Bruins came back winning another one to tie it, but the Bucs recaptured and held their lead—securing a final score of 8-5.
Third team Hughes and Sandlin dominated with an 8-2 victory. After game three, the duo won back-to-back games for a decisive three-game lead. The Bruins were only able to win one more before Hughes and Sandlin swept the rest.
The Pirates won four out of their six singles matches. No. 3, freshman Layne Ryerson won his first and last sets 6-3, while Brigham lost his first two 6-4 and 6-2, respectively.
The Bucs travel to Oregon next weekend to face off against the Pacific University Boxers Friday at 4 p.m. and the Linfield College Wildcats Saturday 10 a.m.