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GEORGE FOX 5, PUGET SOUND 4: Bruins Pull Out NWC-Opening Win over Loggers
NEWBERG, Ore. - A critical and impressive win by Justin McClain at No. 5 singles enabled the George Fox University Bruins to prevail in their Northwest Conference men’s tennis opener 5-4 over the visiting University of Puget Sound Loggers Saturday afternoon here at the GFU campus courts.
The Bruins took two of the three doubles matches and won at the top two singles to forge ahead 4-1, but did not secure the victory until McClain overpowered Brent Hashiba 6-2, 6-1 to secure the home team’s fifth match.
George Fox winners in doubles were Peter Brown and Josiah Jackson over Hashiba and Brian Burger of UPS 8-2 at No. 2, and McClain and Andy Tweet over Alex Harrison and Harrison Timmons 8-6 at No. 3. The Loggers picked up a 9-8 (9-7) win at No. 1 as Mike Cutter and Nick Kelly edged the Bruins’ Scott Barnett and Preston Mann.
Barnet and Brown were straight-sets winners at No. 1 and No. 2 singles respectively for the Bruins, giving them their 4-1 lead. Barnett downed Cutter 6-2, 6-4, and Brown dropped George Murphy 6-4, 6-3. The Loggers got back into it as Kelly came back against Mann 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3, and Harrison rallied against Jackson 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 at No. 4.
With the match on the line, McClain cruised past Hashiba to clinch the Bruins’ first win over the Loggers since adding men’s tennis to the George Fox athletics scene in 1996. That offset a win by the Loggers’ Timmons over Tweet 6-4, 6-2 at No. 6.
“This was a breakthrough win for our program,” admitted George Fox coach Neal Ninteman. “Today’s effort was a direct reflection of all the hard work the guys have put in over the last several months; they earned this. I am extremely proud of them, not just for the victory, which is significant, but even more for the way they won. It was a very tight match that demanded a great deal of both physical and mental toughness, and they rose to the challenge. To have such a strong performance against a quality team like UPS is a great accomplishment. It is also a huge step for us toward our goal of getting a spot in the conference tournament.
“Justin McClain and Andy Tweet coming back from 5-6 to win the critical No. 3 doubles match 8-6 was huge, and ultimately the difference maker. Justin was tremendous today; he played brilliantly in both his singles and doubles matches. His win in the critical No. 5 singles was the one that wrapped things up for us, evoking quite a celebration.”
NEXT: George Fox (2-0, NWC 1-0) has its work cut out for it Sunday as the Bruins host the Whitman College Missionaries, ranked No,. 19 nationally in the NCAA Division III, Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ... Puget Sound (1-1, NWC 1-1) hosts Whitworth University Friday at 3:00 p.m.