LUTES AT THE WHITS: Following an emphatic 7-2 non-conference victory against the College of Idaho, Pacific Lutheran Men's tennis will open up its Northwest Conference play this weekend in eastern Washington against the Whitman College Missionaries and the Whitworth Pirates. The long road trip will begin in Walla Walla against a 5-3 Missionaries squad at 4 p.m. Friday and at 11 a.m. Saturday against the Whitworth Pirates
LUTES TO FACE NATIONALLY RANKED MISSIONARIES: The Lutes will have all they can handle against a very talented Whitman program. The Missionaries come in this season as the defending four-time Northwest Conference champions and enter this Friday's matchup with a 5-3 record while boasting wins over three nationally ranked NCAA DIII opponents; one of which included a 6-3 triumph over No. 6 UC Santa Cruz. Among the key returners for Whitman include seniors Adriel Borshansky and Conor Holton-Burke. Borshansky went 12-2 in overall singles play last season while Holton-Burke finished his 2011 campaign with an 11-8 singles mark while playing No. 1 singles for most of last season. Along with the senior duo returns sophomore Andrew La Cava who dominated his overall singles play notching a 16-6 record including an undefeated 9-0 conference singles total. Whitman also holds the conference record for most consecutive wins against NWC opponents at 79 victories. They have yet to drop a match against an NWC opponent since 2007 when they lost to the Lutes in the conference championship. Whitman hasn't looked back since, beating the Lutes 8-1 and 7-2 in the last two meetings.
GETTING TO KNOW THE BUCS: Whitworth returns an experienced group of players for the 2012 season. After finishing third in NWC play with an 8-4 record last season, the Pirates will be relying on their singles contingent of Cameron Williams and Daniel Redfern to pick up where the program left off last season and spoil the Lutes visit. Redfern who played No. 1 singles in 2011 for the Pirates finished with an 11-5 overall singles record while Williams supplemented with an 11-3 overall record in all singles matches. Despite the returning experience, the Pirates are off to a slower start this spring dropping two of their first three non-conference matches against Division I Eastern Washington University and NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State.
LUTES 7, COLLEGE OF IDAHO 2: In a tightly contested match at No. 1 doubles, Chen Simpson and Mark Malstrom from College of Idaho came back from an early deficit to beat juniors Zack AhYat and Taylor Dickey, 9-7. At No. 2 doubles, PLU sophomores Neal Berg and Reed Gunstone picked up an 8-5 win over Thomas McMahon and Kenny Stark. The No. 3 doubles match went to the Lutes team of senior Dan Cotton and freshman Luke Olson, 8-4, against C of I's James Collet and Zach Baker.
In singles play, the Lutes won four out of five in straight sets. Perhaps the most impressive came at No. 1 where AhYat shut out Simpson, 6-0, 6-0. At No. 2, Dickey beat Malstrom 6-4, 6-3, at No. 3 it was Cotton over Collet 6-2, 6-1, and at No. 6 it was Gunstone topping Oscar Mariscal 6-3, 6-4.
The No. 5 singles match offered plenty of suspense with Olson and McMahon going to a third set before Olson prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
The Coyotes' lone victory came from Kenny Stark at No. 4 singles, where he beat Berg 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).