Top-Seeded Whitman Holds of Bearcats, 6-3, to Reach Finals

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

YAKIMA, WASH. -- Top-seeded Whitman College, which went 16-0 in the Northwest Conference in the regular season, held off Willamette University, 6-3, in the semifinals of the NWC Men's Tennis Tournament on Friday, April 18 at the Yakima Tennis Club. Willamette dropped 9-10 overall. The Bearcats will play in the third place match on Saturday, April 19 against Linfield College.

Whitman, ranked #20 in the nation and #5 in the NCAA Division III West Region, improved to 21-9 on the season. The Missionaries will compete in the NWC Championship match against Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday. PLU defeated Linfield, 5-4, in the other semifinal match.

The Bearcats, ranked #15 in the West Region, built a 2-1 lead over the favored Missionaries by winning #1 and #2 doubles. At #1 doubles, Eric MacMillan (Sr., Twin Falls, ID/Twin Falls HS) and Andrew Murakami (Jr., Waihawa, HI/Leilehua HS/U. of Redlands) went to a tie-breaker before slipping past Daniel Solomon and Matthew Solomon of Whitman, 9-8 (7-5). In the #2 doubles match, Micah Mack (So., Wenatchee, WA/Wenatchee HS) and Matt Houser (Fr., Vancouver, WA/Evergreen HS) outlasted Nadeem Kassam and Jake Cappel, 8-4.

Whitman won #3 doubles. Justin Hayashi and Jasper Follows registered the victory, as they defeated Fitz Paccione (Sr., Encinitas, CA/Cathedral Catholic) and Luke Lagattuta (So., Albuquerque, NM/Highland HS), 8-3.

The Missionaries took charge of the match by recording wins at five of the six singles positions. WU's lone singles victory was achieved by MacMillan as he won the #1 position over Matthew Solomon in three sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Three of Willamette's losses occurred after the competitors split the first two sets. At #3 singles, Chris Bailey of Whitman rallied to defeat Murakami, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. At #6 singles, Hayashi also rallied from one set down to edge Lagattuta in a super tie-breaker played instead of a third set, 6-7, 6-1, 10-3. In the #5 singles match, Hayashi won the first set, but lost the second to Fitz Paccione, before prevailing 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.

The third place match on Saturday will decide the season series between Willamette and Linfield. The Bearcats won the first meeting, 5-4, in Salem, Ore., on Feb. 17. The Wildcats tied the series at one match apiece by defeating Willamette, 8-1, on March 16 in McMinnville, Ore.

Friday, April 18
Northwest Conference Men's Tennis Championship

Semifinals
At Yakima Tennis Club, Yakima, Wash.

Whitman College 6, Willamette University 3

Singles
#1 - Eric MacMillan (WU) defeated Matthew Solomon (WHTM), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
#2 - Daniel Solomon (WHTM) defeated Micah Mack (WU), 6-0, 6-1
#3 - Chris Bailey (WHTM) defeated Andrew Murakami (WU), 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
#4 - Jake Cappel (WHTM) defeated Matt Houser (WU), 6-2, 6-2
#5 - Dan Wilson (WHTM) defeated Fitz Paccione (WU), 6-2, 2-6, 6-1
#6 - Justin Hayashi (WHTM) defeated Luke Lagattuta (WU), 6-6, 6-1, 10-3*

Doubles
#1 - MacMillan and Murakami (WU) defeated Matthew Solomon and Daniel Solomon (WHTM), 9-8 (7-5)
#2 - Mack and Houser (WU) defeated Cappel and Nadeem Kassam (WHTM), 8-4
#3 - Hayashi and Jasper Follows (WHTM) defeated Paccione and Lagattuta (WU), 8-3

* Tie-breaker played instead of a third set

Records: Whitman is 21-9 overall (16-0 in the NWC in the regular season); Willamette is 9-10 overall (8-8 in the NWC in the regular season).

Eric MacMillan won #1 singles against Matthew Solomon of Whitman, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Eric MacMillan won #1 singles against Matthew Solomon of Whitman, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.