Split Home-Away Matches Lay Ahead For Lutes Tennis
THIS WEEK: In a strangely scheduled weekend, the Pacific Lutheran University men's tennis team will host the difficult Whitman Missionaries on Friday evening before traveling to Lewis & Clark College for a Saturday afternoon match. The Northwest Conference matches will be the fourth and fifth of the 2011 season for the Lutes, who have started off in rough fashion with three straight losses to Linfield, Pacific (Ore.), and George Fox. The Lutes did find a win, though, against non-conference opponent College of Idaho last weekend to put them at 1-3 overall in 2011.
SHELDON EARNS NWC HONOR: Senior Scott Sheldon earned Northwest Conference Student Athlete of the Week recognition for his performance in PLU's two matches last weekend. Sheldon won both of his singles and doubles matches as the Lutes split, beating College of Idaho and losing to George Fox.
LUTES ON A MISSION: Friday will present the Lutes with by far their hardest task of this young 2011 season. In the past four years, the Lutes have not beaten the Whitman College Missionaries. The 2006-07 season marked the last time PLU won, with the 5-4 victory coming in the NWC playoffs. Whitman is currently 5-0 in NWC play thus far, and 5-2 overall. The losses for the perennial NWC power came to strong non-conference tennis squads early in the season (7-0 to Eastern Washington University and 6-3 to Lewis-Clark State College). Led by junior #1 Conor Holten-Burke and freshman Andrew La Cava, the Missionaries have steam-rolled their NWC competition this year, dropping only one match (44-1) in the five conference showdowns they have had so far. When the schools squared off in 2010, Whitman took all three matches, the final one coming the first round of the NWC playoffs. Friday will present an opportunity for the Lutes to upset Whitman and find redemption for four years of losses. The matches will be held at the University of Puget Sound at 6 p.m.
PIONEERING FOR VICTORY: In an unorthodox match schedule, the Lutes will travel to Lewis & Clark College on Saturday to take on the Pioneers. Dwelling at the bottom of the standings in the conference at 0-5 overall, the Pios have started in rough fashion in 2011. Winning only one of the 45 matches they have played, the Lutes will hope to take advantage of their struggles and take a win on the road this weekend. Taylor Dickey leads the Lutes as the #1 this season, and looks primed to win this Saturday. The match will kickoff at 2 p.m.
GEORGE FOX 5, PLU 4: George Fox won two of three points in doubles and that proved to be the winning margin as the visiting Bruins defeated Pacific Lutheran, 5-4, in a Northwest Conference men's tennis match played Sunday afternoon at the UPS Tennis Pavilion. The win ended a long drought for the Bruins against the Lutes. Since instituting the men's program in 1996, George Fox had never beaten Pacific Lutheran. Taylor Dickey and Scott Sheldon combined for a solid 8-3 victory over Scott Barnett and Preston Mann at No. 1 doubles, but the Bruins picked up wins in the other two matches for two valuable team points. Peter Brown and Josiah Jackson beat Neal Berg and Zack AhYat, 8-4, at No. 2 doubles, and Justin McClain and Andy Tweet topped Reed Gunstone and Michael Parretta, 8-2, at No. 3 doubles. When the teams split their singles matches, the extra doubles point carried the Bruins to victory. PLU players winning singles matches were Sheldon at No. 2, beating Brown 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, Daniel Cotton at No. 4, stuffing McClain 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, and Gunstone at No. 6, besting Tweet 6-1, 6-4. George Fox singles wins came from Barnett over Dickey at No. 1, 6-2, 6-4, Mann over AhYat at No. 3, 6-2, 7-6 (1), and Jackson over Berg at No. 5, 6-2, 6-4.
PLU 7, COLLEGE OF IDAHO 2: PLU picked up its first men's tennis victory of the 2011 season on Saturday, defeating College of Idaho, 7-2, in a non-conference match played at the UPS Tennis Pavilion. PLU picked up a pair of points in doubles, and then took five singles victories, four of them in straight sets. The two PLU doubles wins both ended in 8-3 scores with Taylor Dickey and Scott Sheldon beating Chenjerai Simpmson and Thomas McMahon at No. 1 and Zack Ah Yat and Neal Berg topping Isaac Creed and Joel Hernandez at No. 2. College of Idaho picked up a point when Jaron Tietsort and Mark Mahlmstrom rallied to take a 9-8 (6) victory over Reed Gunstone and Michael Parretta at No. 3 doubles. Dickey and Simpson played a tight match at No. 1 singles with the PLU player finally pulling out a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6) win. That was the only Lutes win that went to a third set. In No. 2 through No. 4 singles, Sheldon beat Creed 6-3, 6-2, Ah Yat topped Hernandez 6-1, 6-2, and Cotton dumped Tietsort 6-1, 6-1. PLU's other singles win came from Gunstone, who swept away Taylor Gordon 6-1, 6-1. The Coyote's lone singles win came from McMahon, won won a 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (7) super tiebreaker over Berg.
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By Alex Schisel, student assistant