by Caleb Mathena
The men’s tennis team finished out the regular season strong last weekend with a pair of wins against visiting Pacific Lutheran University and University of Puget Sound. The Pirates are now guaranteed the fourth and final bid for the 2016 Northwest Conference tournament.
The Bucs led off on Saturday with a sweep in doubles against the Lutes. Court one saw the most contentious match of the day when seniors Drew Brigham and Drew Adams claimed an 8-5 victory. No. 2 doubles team, juniors Shane Sandlin and Caleb Hughes dominated their opponents 8-2 while freshman Layne Ryerson and senior Blake Miller won on court three 8-1.
“I think Shane and I both served pretty well, which set us up for some great put-aways,” Hughes said. “Something we’ve been trying to work on is making sure that our returns are clean and just making sure that we are sharp at the beginning of the match. We closed really strong, but the first couple games were a little iffy.”
The Pirates rolled passed the Lutes in singles as well, managing to win every single set. Every match, from courts one to six was decided in just two quick sets. Whitworth finished out the day with a decisive 9-0 victory, increasing their record to 7-4 in the NWC.
Sunday was more of the same for the Bucs. Once again, Whitworth was able to grab all three matches in doubles play with an 8-0 win on court one and 8-1 wins on courts two and three.
In singles play, Brigham finished first with a 6-0, 6-1 win, putting Whitworth up 4-0. The coup de gras came from sophomore Ryan Adams on court six who won 6-0, 6-1.
Miller beat his opponent 6-1, 6-1 on court 2 and Ryerson grabbed a 6-1, 6-2 victory on court 4.
“I just tried to envision myself playing next week in the conference tournament,” Miller said. “I was really working on my serve. That’s been a focus recently. I’ve just been trying to go a little bit bigger and choose my spots a little bit better.”
Whitworth toppled Puget Sound 9-0, increasing their record to 8-4 in conference. The win secured their place in the conference tournament next weekend.
“It was a good weekend,” head coach Mike Shanks said. “We haven’t swept these two teams like that, I think, ever before. Granted, they aren’t as good as they have been in the past, but we’re playing really good.”
As his team moves forward, Shanks said “don’t count us out.”