Bearcats Set to Open Season in Santa Cruz, Calif.

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's tennis team is scheduled to open the 2008 spring season on Saturday, Feb. 2, with a pair of dual matches in Santa Cruz, Calif. Willamette is set to take on the University of California-Santa Cruz at 2 p.m. (PST), followed by a match against Pomona-Pitzer at 6 p.m. (PST).

With the weather forecast for Santa Cruz calling for rain throughout most of Saturday, the Bearcats hope the tennis courts at UCSC will stay dry for both matches. WU is tentatively scheduled to play an exhibition match in Santa Cruz against Foothill (Junior) College at 10 a.m. (PST) on Sunday, Feb. 3.

Willamette first-year Head Coach Neil Patel will guide the Bearcats through their first dual matches since he joined the WU coaching staff this past fall. Patel, age 22, was ranked 10th in doubles during his senior season as a player for Pomona-Pitzer last year.

Patel will rely on his top three players to set the tone for WU this weekend. Andrew Murakami (Jr., Wahiawa, HI/University of Redlands) will play #1 singles for the Bearcats. Eric MacMillan (Sr., Twin Falls, ID/Twin Falls HS) and Matthew Houser (Fr. Vancouver, WA/Evergreen HS) will alternate at the #2 and #3 singles positions. In doubles, Murakami and Micah Mack (So., Wenatchee, WA/Wenatchee HS) will for Willamette's #1 team.

Head Coach Neil Patel will lead the Bearcats against UC-Santa Cruz and Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday, Feb.2.

Head Coach Neil Patel will lead the Bearcats against UC-Santa Cruz and Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday, Feb.2.