The men's tennis team gets its Northwest Conference schedule underway this weekend when the Pirates host Lewis & Clark College on Saturday and George Fox University on Sunday.
Saturday's match is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am while Sunday's contest begins at 10:30 in the Scotford Tennis Center.
Head coach Mike Shanks is in his 17th season leading the Pirates. Whitworth is coming off of a 6-11 season in 2015. But the Bucs went 6-6 in the NWC and just missed qualifying for the conference tournament.
The Pirates return five of their top six singles players from last season, led by Drew Brigham who earned First Team All-Northwest Conference as a Junior following Second Team recognition as in 2014. He went 9-8 overall in singles and 7-5 against Northwest Conference foes. All 17 of his matches were at #1 singles for the Pirates.
Senior Blake Miller, who played most of the matches at #2 on the ladder last year, returns after finishing 7-9 overall and 6-5 in conference. Junior Shane Sandlin played the most matches of any Pirate at #3 last year and finished 6-9 overall while splitting time at #3 and #4 on the ladder. Drew Adams went 7-10 overall, 6-6 within the NWC and 4-4 while playing at #4 on the ladder. Caleb Hughes was another Pirate who posted a winning singles record. He finished 8-4 overall and 7-2 vs. the NWC while playing mostly at #6 on the ladder.
As always, the doubles teams will be a work-in-progress as Shanks figures out his best combinations of players. Brigham and Sandlin had another strong season playing together in 2015, finishing 6-7 as the #1 doubles pair, 6-4 against NWC opponents.
After this weekend's matches Whitworth will hit the road for three contests in Oregon the weekend of Feb. 26-28. The Pirates will take on Pacific (Friday), Linfield (Saturday) and Willamette (Sunday).