SPOKANE, Wash. – A pair of tightly fought doubles matches that went Pacific's way were the difference between a 5-4 loss and an upset of the nationally-ranked Boxers for the Whitworth men's tennis team on Sunday afternoon at the Scotford Tennis Center.
The Pirates dropped to 1-7 overall and 1-5 in the NWC while #34 Pacific improved to 4-4, 4-2. Whitworth had dropped a 7-2 decision to the same team only two weeks ago.
Two of the three doubles matches went the Boxers' way by a narrow margin. Whitworth took a 1-0 lead when Ian Fisher and Ben Bethards defeated Wesley Upton and Reuben Mulhern 8-4 at #2 doubles. But Pacific got the other two points as Oscar Wright and Sage Katayama edged Shane Sandlin and Caleb Hughes 8-6 at #1. Rayden Murata and Ford Nakagawa also edged the Pirate pair of Jeffrey Vulis and Jake Bethards by the same 8-6 score at #3 doubles.
Pacific moved within a point of clinching the team win by taking two of the top three singles matches. First Wright beat Sandlin 6-1, 6-2 at #1, then Mulhern topped Hughes 6-3, 6-1 at #2 singles. But Fisher kept Pirate hopes alive with his 6-4, 7-6 win over Katayama at #3 singles.
Vulis pulled Whitworth to within 4-3 of Pacific when he rolled to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Sean Murphy at #4 singles, setting up a dramatic finish at #5 and #6 – which both went to three sets. Jake Bethards pulled out a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 win for the Bucs at #5. But Pacific got the winning point when Upton slipped past Ben Bethards 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 at #6.
Whitworth will return to action in two weeks when the Pirates host Puget Sound in a Northwest Conference match on March 25th.