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.

Singles
#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

Doubles
#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.

BOX SCORE

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.