Whitworth Men Headed Back to NWC Tournament

Whitworth Men Headed Back to NWC Tournament

SPOKANE, Wash. – After a three-year absence, Whitworth University is back in the Northwest Conference men's tennis tournament in 2016 and the Pirates are hoping for a chance to shock the Division III tennis world.  Whitworth will take on top-seeded and 19th-ranked Whitman in Saturday's first semifinal at 10:00 am. 

The winner of this weekend's event will earn the NWC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament next month.  Click here for a link to the NWC tournament website provided by Whitman College.  It includes a tournament schedule and links to live results.

Tournament Format:  As the regular season champion, Whitman is the #1 seed and host of the four-team event.  The Missionaries will take on 4th-seeded Whitworth in Friday's first semifinal at 10:00 am.  Second-seeded Pacific (Ore.) will play #3-seed Lewis & Clark in the second semifinal at Whitman on Friday at 2:00 pm.  The winners will meet in the tournament championship game on Sunday at 10:00 am.

Tournament History: Whitworth has returned to the Northwest Conference tournament for the first time since 2012.  In 2011 the tournament changed to a four-team event hosted by the regular season champion.  Prior to that it had been an eight-team tournament played at a neutral site in Yakima, Washington.  Whitworth last won a match in the NWC tournament in 2008 during a 5th-6th place matchup with Puget Sound.  The last time the Bucs played in 2012, they fell 5-0 at Whitman in the semifinals.

The Pirates:  Whitworth is 12-7 overall and 8-4 in the NWC under 17th-year head coach Mike Shanks.  The Pirates had a six-match winning streak in late February and early March that helped them vault into contention for the conference playoffs.  Then the Bucs earned their first win over Lewis-Clark State College since the 1980s near the end of the regular season.

Drew Brigham and Blake Miller have held down the top-two spots on the Pirates' singles ladder this season.  Brigham, who was a First Team All-NWC honoree in 2015, finished 11-7 overall and 8-4 against NWC opponents as the #1 player this year.  Miller went 8-10 overall and 6-6 against the NWC at #2.

Brigham teamed with Drew Adams to form a strong #1 doubles pair.  They went 9-9 overall and 6-6 in league matches this spring.  Shane Sandlin and Caleb Hughes have posted a 16-3 doubles record at #2 on the ladder for the Bucs.

The Opponents:  Whitman has claimed nine straight NWC regular season men's tennis titles and ten conference tournaments in a row.  The Missionaries are ranked 19th in Division III and are 17-8 overall.  They went 11-1 against the NWC this season, losing to a Northwest Conference opponent for the first time in nine years.  Zach Hewlin is 11-4 as the #1 player on Whitman's singles ladder this season.