MacMillan and Paccione Rally in Singles, as Bearcats Defeat Linfield, 5-4

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Senior Eric MacMillan (Twin Falls, ID/Twin Falls HS) at #1 singles and senior Fitz Paccione (Encinitas, CA/Cathedral Catholic) at #4 singles each rallied from a 5-4 deficit in the third set to win 7-5, sending Willamette University to a 5-4 team victory over Northwest Conference rival Linfield College, on Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Courthouse Tennis Club. The Bearcats improved to 1-2 on the season, 1-1 in the NWC. Linfield fell to 1-5 overall, 1-3 in the NWC.

Willamette's first-year head coach, Neil Patel, picked up the first victory of his career, but had to wait until the final point of the match to celebrate. After trailing 5-4 in the final set, MacMillan and Paccione each held serve, then took a 6-5 lead in their respective matches with a service break. The pair of WU seniors served again, with each player needing a win to avoid a tie-breaker.

MacMillan held his serve first, as he defeated Nick Ruess, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Just minutes later, with the team score on the line, Paccione also held serve for a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over Mark Magdaong.

Willamette took a 2-1 lead with wins at #1 doubles and #3 doubles. The Bearcats picked up another win at #3 singles, when Andrew Murakami (Jr., Wahiawa, HI/U. of Redlands) downed Wes Gabrielson, 6-0, 7-5. Linfield, won #2, #5 and #6 singles, forcing WU to sweep the final two positions.

At #2 singles, Linfield's Kyle Anderson edge Matthew Houser (Fr., Vancouver, WA/Evergreen HS) in the first set, 7-6, after taking a narrow 8-6 win in a tie-breaker. Anderson built a 3-0 lead on his way to a 6-3 triumph in the second set. Tal DeWitt won for the Wildcats at #5 singles, 6-1, 6-2, over Luke Lagattuta (So., Albuquerque, NM/Highland HS) In #6 singles, Brad Henson of LC held off Alex Sepenzis (Jr., Edwards, CO/Cherry Creek HS), 6-3, 6-4.

Although WU won two of the doubles matches, all three were competitive. WU's #1 team of Murakami and Micah Mack (So., Wenatchee, WA/Wenatchee HS) claimed an 8-5 win over Gabrielson and Magdaong. At #3 doubles, Lagattuta and Sepenzis of Willamette edged Anderson and Matt Kauffman, 8-6. Linfield's doubles win was achieve at the #2 position by Ruess and Brent Kingzett, who defeated MacMillan and Houser, 8-6.

The Bearcats will play again on Friday, Feb. 22 at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., at 4 p.m. (PST). Willamette will then stop in Walla Walla, Wash., on Saturday, Feb. 23 to take on Whitman College at 11 a.m. (PST).

Sunday, Feb. 17
At Courthouse Tennis Club, Salem, Ore.

#1 - Eric MacMillan (WU) defeated Nick Ruess (LC), 6-4, 4-6, 7-5
#2 - Kyle Anderson (LC) defeated Matthew Houser (WU), 7-6 (8-6), 6-3
#3 - Andrew Murakami (WU) defeated Wes Gabrielson (LC), 6-0, 7-5
#4 - Fitz Paccione (WU) defeated Mark Magdaong (LC), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
#5 - Tal DeWitt (LC) defeated Luke Lagattuta (WU), 6-1, 6-2
#6 - Brad Henson (LC) defeated Alex Sepenzis (WU), 6-3, 6-4

#1 - Murakami and Micah Mack (WU) defeated Gabrielson and Magdaong (LC), 8-5
#2 - Ruess and Brent Kingzett (LC) defeated MacMillan and Houser (WU), 8-6
#3 - Lagattuta and Sepenzis (WU), defeated Anderson and Matt Kauffman (LC), 8-6

Records: Willamette is now 1-2 overall, 1-1 in the NWC; Linfield is now 1-5 overall, 1-3 in the NWC.


Willamette University 5, Linfield College 4

Fitz Paccione won #4 singles in three sets to provide Willamette with the winning point in a 5-4 victory over Linfield.

Fitz Paccione won #4 singles in three sets to provide Willamette with the winning point in a 5-4 victory over Linfield.