May 24, 2018

Watanabe Ends Career at NCAA Individual Championships

A Winning Tradition

  • One NWC Player of the Year (Spencer Watanabe, 2017-18)
  • Six Northwest Conference Tournament Appearances (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018)
  • Three All-Americans
  • 33 All-NWC Athletes

Photo Courtesy of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps

CLAREMONT --- George Fox's Spencer Watanabe closed out his prolific four-year career for the men's tennis team Thursday, as the senior made history playing in the first-ever NCAA Division III Men's Tennis – Individual Championships. Watanabe fell to Carleton's Leo Vithoontien 7-5, 6-2.


It was a battle of titans on the courts of the Biszantz Family Tennis Center, as Watanabe and Vithoontien went back and forth during the entire match. Vithoontien, who was recently named ITA Rookie of the Year for the central region came into the match with a 19-1 singles record. Watanabe was no stranger to awards after earning the Bruins first-ever NWC Player of the Year and being named ITA Most Improved Senior.

The two juggernauts went head to head in what would be a grudge match.

Both players traded early set points, but it would be Vithoontien who came away with a 7-5 victory in the first set.

Vithoontien found some rhythm and jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second set. Showing the grit and adversity he has his whole career, Watanabe bounced back with two straight points to tie the match up at 2-2.

Soon after, the match started to become a stamina battle as the two endured longer rallies with each setpoint meaning more and more.

Vithoontien went on to take the second set, 6-2.

Watanabe ends his career for the Bruins as the most decorated Bruin to come through the program. He finishes as a three-time All-American, the Bruins first-ever NWC Player of the Year, a four-time All-NWC first-team selection, the ITA Most Improved Senior and the first-ever Bruin to make it to the Individual Championships.

"Spencer's work ethic in training and passion on the court really set the tone for our entire team," said head coach Neal Ninteman. "As a coach, he's your dream player -- he gives 100% of himself, physically and emotionally, every time he steps on the court, in practice as well as in matches. We talk a lot as a team about all the blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to compete at a high level, and Spencer has modeled that.  And in doing so, he brings everyone around him up to a higher level.  That's what he's done for our program."