by Nathan Webber
Whitworth men’s tennis opened conference play this weekend with authority, beating the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University at the Scotford Tennis Center.
“The season has looked good so far, we’re playing pretty well,” senior Daniel Redfern said.
The Bucs prevailed over the visiting Loggers and the Lutes, extending their record to 2-0 in the Northwest Conference and 3-3 overall. In Whitworth’s last three matches they have outplayed their opponents by a total score of 26-1.
“We graduated five seniors last year so this year is a whole new ball game,” head coach Mike Shanks said. “We worked hard in practice, especially our doubles teams. We won all three doubles games verse UPS and PLU and when you win the first three matches it gives the rest of the team momentum.”
On Friday, the Pirates were dominant in their first Northwest Conference matchup of the season as the team went a perfect 9-0 against UPS. In the six singles matches on Friday, the Pirates only allowed the Loggers to win one game in any of the first sets.
The Bucs were led by No. 1 singles player Redfern, who didn’t surrender a game as he defeated the Loggers No. 1 player 6-0, 6-0. Redfern is 3-1 in singles play this year.
“I played really well at the start, but he picked it up later in the match which got me frustrated,” Redfern said. “ I’m pleased overall with my play and the teams play.”
The Pirates No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles players were almost as efficient as Redfern. Sophomore John Talbot defeated the Loggers Abe Noyes 6-0, 6-1 while junior Stefan Dernbach and freshman Chris Engelmann followed suit, defeating their opponents 6-0, 6-1 as well.
The Pirate doubles teams were in control of the Loggers all night, led by the No. 2 doubles team of Dernbach and junior Micah Spaun who beat the Loggers No. 2 doubles team 8-1. The Bucs No. 1 doubles team of Redfern and junior Cameron Williams defeated UPS’s No. 1 doubles 8-3.
“I’m really proud of the outcome and the way we stepped up,” Shanks said.
Saturday’s contest went in similar fashion as the Bucs took down the Lutes 8-1.
The Pirates started off strong as the three doubles teams won 8-3, 8-2 and 8-5. No. 1 and No. 2 singles had another strong outing as No. 1 Redfern beat the Lutes No. 1 player 6-0, 6-3 and No. 2 Williams beat the Lutes No. 2 player 6-2, 6-2.
“PLU is really tough,” Shanks said. “Pacific is going to be tough. These next three matches are going to be really tough, but we’re off to a good start.”
The Pirates will have some tests the next three games as they try to claim sole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference.
“We have Pacific, Willamette and Linfield coming up and those should be pretty tough matches. We’re home for two of those which help’s a lot,” Redfern said. “Knowing the courts and having some kind of fan base always helps.”
The Bucs will travel to Pacific on March 3 for their first away conference game.
Contact Nathan Webber at email@example.com