SPOKANE, Wash. – Closing the regular season with a hard-fought win over their closest pursuer, the George Fox University Bruins clinched third place in the Northwest Conference men’s tennis standings and the No. 3 seed in the upcoming NWC Tournament with a 5-4 win over the Whitworth University Pirates Saturday afternoon here at the Scotford Tennis Center.
The Bruins improved to 10-7 overall, equaling their record for wins in a season (10-8 in 1998), and 9-3 in the NWC, while the Pirates dropped to 11-8 and 8-4 in the conference. Whitworth needed to defeat George Fox at least 7-2 to overtake the Bruins in the final standings, but will have to settle for the No. 4 seed in the tournament.
The whole match may have been decided at No. 1 doubles, where Whitworth’s Daniel Redfern and Micah Spaun were leading 7-6 and serving for the match, only to have the Bruins’ Preston Mann and Shawn Aldrich rally for a 9-7 win. Justin McClain and Peter Brown followed with a defeat of Ben Hamming and Stefan Dernbach 8-2 at No. 2, giving the Bruins an edge in the doubles. Whitworth’s John Talbot and Matt Goebel earned the No. 3 doubles with an 8-3 win over David Munoz and Drew Milton.
With all six singles matches occurring simultaneously, momentum shifted wildly throughout the afternoon. Munoz at No. 5 singles finished first, running past Hamming 6-1, 6-1 to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead, but Redfern beat Mann 6-1, 7-5 at No. 1 to pull the Pirates within 3-2. McClain topped Spaun 6-3, 6-1 at No. 3 to put the Bruins ahead 4-2.
Milton finally clinched the team victory for the Bruins with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Dustin McConnell at No. 4, just before Whitworth’s Cameron Williams rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second set for a 6-4, 7-5 win over Aldrich at No. 2 singles. Talbot scored Whitworth’s final point with a 6-1, 3-6, 1-0 (10-4) win over Andy Tweet at No. 6.
"Whitworth is a notoriously tough team on their home courts, so this was a great win for us,” said George Fox coach Neal Ninteman. “I'm really proud of what the guys accomplished today; it was a great way to finish our conference season and send us into the conference tourney."
NEXT: George Fox will play No. 2 seed Pacific University and Whitworth will take on No. 1 seed Whitman College on Friday in the NWC Tournament, which will be hosted by Whitman in Walla Walla, Wash. Times are to be announced. The finals will be on Saturday, with the winner earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.