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April 3, 2012

Lutes Return to Oregon for Key Matches

BACK ON THE ROAD:  Pacific Lutheran men's tennis will return to Oregon this weekend for a rematch with conference foes George Fox and Lewis & Clark. PLU currently sits in the middle of the conference standings at fifth place with a 4-4 Northwest Conference mark. The Lutes are set to face the Bruins at 3:30 p.m. Friday in Newburg, Ore, followed by a match against the Pioneers at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Portland, Ore.

SEEKING REDEMPTION AGAINST BRUINS: After suffering a close 5-4 loss to George Fox in their first meeting, the Lutes are poised to even the season series and climb the conference standings against the currently third place Bruins. In the last meeting, George Fox rallied from 3-0 down after doubles play and dispatched the Lutes in No. 2 through No. 6 singles to take the match 5-4. Fox has relied heavily on their solid singles performances by Juniors Shawn Aldrich, Drew Milton and Sophomore Justin McClain; the three have combined to go 22-17 in NWC singles play in the No. 2 through No. 4 singles spots.

LUTES AIM TO SWEEP PIOS: Pacific Lutheran handled the visiting Lewis & Clark Pioneers 8-1 in a meeting last month and have every intention of doing the same this Saturday. The Lutes took all three opening doubles matches and breezed through singles play with the exception of the No. 1 singles match where PLU senior Zack AhYat retired due to an abdominal injury in the second set. The young Pioneers are led by Freshman Oliver Groot, who maintains an impressive 6-2 No. 1 singles record in conference play this season. Groot is also the reigning conference player of the week coming into this weekend's matches.

PLU 6, UPS 3; Pacific Lutheran, fresh off a four-match spring break trip to California, defeated the Puget Sound Loggers, 6-3, in a Northwest Conference men's tennis match played Friday night at the UPS Tennis Pavilion. The Lutes, now 6-7 overall and 4-4 in the conference, took a 2-1 lead in the doubles portion of the match. Zack AhYat and Taylor Dickey took an 8-4 win over Michael Cutter and Ben Miller at No. 1, while Neal Berg and Sam Angel topped George Murphy and Jake Peterson by the same score at No. 2. Zach Blakeslee and Noel Oteng-Mensah, seeing their first action of the season for PLU, lost an 8-3 decision to Abe Noyes and John Stevens at No. 3 doubles. Two quick wins in the singles matches gave the Loggers (0-12, 0-8) a 3-2 lead, but the Lutes regained the lead as Dickey defeated Cutter 6-4, 6-0 at No. 2 while AhYat was beating Miller 6-0, 6-2 at No. 1.The deciding matches came in the middle courts in two hard-fought matches. Angel sealed the win for the Lutes with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Murphy at No. 3. The No. 4 match went to a super tiebreaker before Berg beat Stevens 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-7).