Lutes Hold Off Whitworth in NWC Tennis Opener
YAKIMA - Pacific Lutheran staved off a strong effort by Whitworth, beating the Pirates, 5-4, in the opening round of the Northwest Conference Men's Tennis Championships being held at Yakima Tennis Club.
With the win, the fourth-seeded Lutes (14-9) advance to the conference tournament semifinals where they will face top-seeded Whitman (18-4), which earned a first-round bye after completing its fourth consecutive undefeated conference season.
With his team facing elimination and two games from losing in the deciding singles match, PLU junior Scott Sheldon won the final 11 games to rally past Henry Williams, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, and give the Lutes the team victory.
The Lutes started of with wins in the top two doubles matches. Joel Trudel and Justin Peterson, ranked No. 4 in West Region doubles, staved off a fierce challenge from Colin Zalewski and Michael Shelton before prevailing, 9-8 (7-3). Sheldon and Michael Manser beat Joe Wales and Cameron Williams, 8-4, at No. 2 doubles. Whitworth picked up a point at No. 3 doubles where Colin Barrett and Henry Williams topped Kevin Floyd and Taylor Dickey, 8-6.
That brought the match down to singles, and like they had done in beating PLU by a 6-3 score back on March 13, the Pirates had a strong showing. Whitworth won two of the three matches that went three sets. Shelton upset Trudel in the No. 1 match, 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, and Camerono Williams got the best of Kevin Floyd at No. 3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Whitworth's other singles win came at No. 4 where Wales beat Manser, 6-4, 6-4.
The Lutes picked up straight set singles wins at No. 2, where Peterson topped Zalewski, 6-3, 6-3, and at No. 6, where Dickey defeated Barrett, 6-4, 6-1. That brought it down to Sheldon, whose rally kept the Lutes alive in the tournament - at least until their 3:30 p.m. showdown with Whitman, ranked No. 26 in the country.
- PLU -