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Young PLU Men's Tennis Team Heads to ITA Event

Youth will be served this weekend as the Pacific Lutheran men's tennis team participates in the USTA/ITA Division III Northwest Men's Small College Tennis Championship hosted by Pacific University.

The unofficial start of the 2012-13 Northwest Conference tennis season, the ITA tournament runs Friday through Monday at the Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation Center in Beaverton, with select matches taking place at the West Hills Racquet Club in Portland.  The finals for both brackets will take place on Monday.  The winners will advance to the USTA/ITA National Small College Championship, which take place Oct. 11-14 in Mobile, Ala.

"I am excited to take a young team to play someone other than ourselves," second-year PLU head coach Rocky Poulin said. "A couple things the coaching staff will be looking for is for the young Lutes to play hard and play with composure. Our conference is getting better and better each year, so the competition will be high."

Poulin is looking forward to seeing Mitch Yannello and his cousin, Jake Yannello, as well as how sophomores and co-captains Luke Olson and Sam Angel show their improvement from last season. "I really thought Sam and Luke were peaking at the end of last year and have worked so hard this fall," Poulin said. Poulin is also excited to watch freshmen Brandon Bulaclac, Justin Berchin, and Hayden McCartney in their first collegiate action. Juniors Bryan Bousquet and Neal Berg round out the PLU players participating at the ITA event.

Two-time defending singles champion Andrew La Cava of Whitman and Pacific's doubles tandem of Troy Zuroske and Giancarlo Battaglia sit atop their respective brackets. None of the PLU singles players or doubes teams are seeded.

La Cava, the No. 1 seed in the singles bracket, is the two-time defending regionals champion and the reigning Northwest Conference Player of the Year.  He led the Missionaries to a fifth NWC title and a berth in the NCAA Division III Championships.  In addition, La Cava was an individual qualifier for the NCAA Championships, falling in the second round. Rounding out the top-four seeds in the singles bracket are No. 2 seed Josh Wong of Willamette, No. 3 seed Zuroske and No. 4 seed Andy Riggs of Whitman. 

Zuroske and Battaglia earned the No. 1 seed in the doubles bracket after a standout season in the spring for the Boxers.  The tandem combined for a 12-5 record and lost just one NWC match the entire season.  The pair helped lead Pacific to a second-place NWC finish, the team's best in recent history.   

Seeded under Zuroske and Battaglia in the doubles bracket are the No. 2 team of La Cava and James Rivers of Whitman, the No. 3 team of Riggs and Matt Tesmond from Whitman and the No. 4 team of Chris Lilley and Justin McClain from George Fox.

Complete tournament brackets, a tournament schedule and updated draws can be found online at http://bit.ly/PsX2hR.  In addition, periodic updates will be made via the Pacific tennis Twitter account, which can be found @BoxerTennis.

(Thanks to Pacific University SID Blake Timm for his tournament preview story.)