Men’s tennis team continues winning tradition
Last spring, the Whitman men’s tennis team kept the dynasty rolling. The team swept through the Northwest Conference regular season undefeated en route to winning its fifth consecutive NWC title and ultimately rose to number eight in the nation.
The team has not lost an NWC match since April 2006, and looks to continue this record as the players work their way towards the national championship in the spring.
Whitman is led by head coach Jeff Northam, the 2012 ITA West Region Coach of the Year, who is in his 19th season at the helm of the tennis program.
“We want to have a good conference season that sets us up to host the conference tournament. When we play at home we have amazing support, and it certainly motivates us to raise our level of play. If we can host the conference tournament we are in a great position to make the NCAAs,” said Northam.
Every year the team produces standout players who have a tremendous impact upon the team and the conference as a whole. In the spring of 2012, alumnus Conor Holton-Burke ’12 was named to the Academic All-American First Team, a team consisting of only 15 players representing all Division III sports. Also last season, current junior Andrew La Cava was selected as the NWC Player of the Year.
Even with Whitman’s past dominance of the NWC, this upcoming season will be no stroll in the park, as many teams in the division have gotten stronger.
“I think everyone on our team would agree that our conference got much stronger this year and there are a couple teams that are looking to push us for the conference title. And you know a team would absolutely love to end our six-year win streak!” said Northam.
With such great success in the past, the team expects nothing less.
“As a team, we know the importance of taking each and every match seriously. This being said, we’re in great condition to take home another NWC title and keep the streak alive. We’re working extremely hard to make this goal a reality. Anything less would be a massive disappointment for us,” said sophomore Colton Malesovas. Malesovas continues to train in preparation for the USA/ITA Fall National Championship after taking the singles title at the Fall Regional two weeks ago.
Despite losing last year’s seniors Holton-Burke and Adriel Borshansky to graduation, the team has not slowed down. Whitman players took the top positions at the USA/ITA Fall Regional: Malesovas won the singles division and sophomore James Rivers and junior La Cava won the doubles division. Rivers and La Cava beat their Whitman counterparts senior Matt Tesmond and junior Andy Riggs 6-0, 6-2. Malesovas, Rivers and La Cava earned All-American status with their performances.
With these victories, Malesovas, Rivers and La Cava will be traveling to Mobile, Ala., on Oct. 14 to play their respective USTA/ITA Southwest Fall Regional winners for the chance to enter the USTA/ITA Fall National Tournament to play for the ITA Fall National Championship.
After strong performances in the past few years, the team has only grown in experience, including the additions of junior Riggs and first-years Noah Lee, Hunter Nelson and Alex Noyes.
“The core of the team this year is older [and] more experienced because we have four new additions to the team and lost [only] two seniors,” said La Cava.
Despite technically being in the off-season, with the official NWC season starting in the spring, the team is practicing and working hard in preparation for the spring.
“Even though our actual season does not start until second semester, during the fall we have around three to 3.5 hours of practice five to six days a week. That is factoring in a generally two- to 2.5-hour practice and an hour-long workout,” said La Cava.
After building a strong reputation for themselves, the team looks forward to continuing the dynasty and continuing to better themselves.
“Our team has had plenty of experience at both a conference and national level, so we’re not lacking in that department. Because we only lost two players, our team’s depth remained virtually untouched,” said Malesovas.
As the team shows no signs of slowing down, their goals are continuing to grow, and with their past success, the goals might become a reality.
“Our team’s expectations this year are to get to the Elite Eight in Nationals, something that has not happened in many years,” said La Cava.