SPOKANE, Wash. - With a share of third place in the Northwest Conference men’s tennis standings and a possible spot in the NWC Tournament weighing on the outcome, the Whitworth University Pirates strengthened their grip on that slot with an 8-1 win over the visiting George Fox University Bruins Sunday afternoon here at the Scotford Tennis Center.
The win improve the Pirates' record to 9-6 overall and 6-2 in the NWC, while George Fox fell to 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the league. The Bruins slipped to fifth place, half a game behind Pacific University (5-6, NWC 4-3) in a battle for the fourth and final spot in the conference tournament.
Whitworth jumped ahead 3-0 with a sweep of the doubles matches. The Pirates’ Daniel Redfern and Colin Barrett bounced the Bruins’ Scott Barnett and Preston Mann 8-4 at No. 1, Joe Wales and Cameron Williams downed Peter Brown and Justin McClain 8-3 at No. 2, and Colin Zalewski and John Talbot edged Pax Magaway and Nolan Staples 8-5 at No. 3.
The Pirates secured the win by taking the top five singles, though not without a scare in a couple of matches. Redfern edged Barnett 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (12-10) at No. 1 in one of two singles contests that went more than two sets. Zalewski breezed past Brown 6-3, 6-1 at No. 2, but Williams had to fight off McClain 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) at No. 3 to give the Pirates an insurmountable lead.
Wales dropped Mann 6-2, 6-3 at No. 4 and Barrett defeated Magaway 6-1, 6-1 at No. 5 to close out the Pirates’ wins. George Fox picked up its only point when Andy Tweet defeated Stefan Dernbach 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8) at No. 6.
“It was exciting to play a match with third place on the line; it has been a while since we played one with that much significance this late in the season,” admitted George Fox coach Neal Ninteman. “The match was actually a lot closer than the final score indicated, as the doubles were well-played and we have a couple of singles that went to three sets or down to the wire in two sets. We still have a chance to control our own destiny, however, with big matches against Linfield and Pacific coming up soon.”
NEXT: George Fox hosts Linfield Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ... Whitworth hosts Lewis-Clark State College Friday in its final non-conference match of the season at 11:00 a.m.