by Nathan Webber
Whitman, which is No. 9 in the national rankings and No. 1 in the regional rankings, hasn’t lost a conference match this year, and is the four-time defending Northwest Conference champions.
“Whitman has always been a huge name in our conference,” junior Cameron Williams said. “They’ve always been at the top as long as I’ve been at Whitworth and this year have really competed together.”
This was the Pirates’ first time being shut out by a conference opponent this season, falling to 8-6 overall and 5-3 in the NWC. Whitworth currently sits in fourth place in the NWC with four conference games left in the season.
Although Whitworth put up a fight against the region’s No. 1 team, Whitman was too much for the Bucs.
The closest match of the day came in No. 3 singles where Whitworth sophomore Dustin McConnell fell to Missionary senior Conor Holton-Burke 6-4, 6-2.
“They have really solid guys throughout the lineup and the guy I played was no different,” McConnell said. “He was definitely a tough matchup but I felt like I played hard and was able to put myself in a couple of chances early on to make it close, but just didn’t quite come up with enough shots.”
It was McConnell’s first conference match of the season after helping lead Whitworth’s basketball team to a Sweet 16 appearance.
“I really enjoyed the basketball season, but ever since it’s been over I’ve just really enjoyed being able to get the tennis racket out,” McConnell said. “The guys on the team and the coach have all been great about making the transition really smooth for me.”
The only other Pirate to win four games in a set in Saturday’s matchup was Williams, who lost to Whitman junior Jeff Tolman 6-4, 6-1 in the No. 2 singles spot.
“I played pretty well; I have a lot of respect for Tolman,” Williams said. “What it came down to is that I ended up just making more errors than he did.”
Senior Daniel Redfern snapped a five-game singles win streak after losing to Whitman’s No. 1 singles player 6-3, 6-2. Redfern, along with Williams, also lost in the No. 1 doubles slot, losing to Whitman junior Matt Tesmond and Holton-Burke 8-0.
The Pirates are looking for a strong finish in conference matches with postseason seeding on the line.
“These last four matches we have are crucial,” Williams said. “We have a big match against Willamette this coming weekend, they’re always a tough opponent for us.”
This weekend Whitworth travels to Oregon to face off against Willamette University and Linfield College before hosting its final two conference matches at home.
Contact Nathan Webber at email@example.com.