by Caitlin Tortorici
If you think your weekend was intense, picture spending up to 12 hours a day running around on a tennis court.
On Friday, Sept. 22, the men’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northwest Regional Championship tennis tournament kicked off, keeping players on the court from dawn until dusk.
Matches continued through Sunday, Sept. 24, and have taken place on Whitman and Walla Walla Community College campuses as well as in College Place.
This weekend’s tournament includes 48 men representing seven of the nine schools in the Northwest conference.
Of Friday’s 64 singles matches and 32 doubles matches, 12 of Whitman’s 13 players made the top 32.
Top ranked players—Phalkun Mam, Steven Ly, Robbie Munday, Matt Solomon, Christoph Fuchs, Jake Cappel and Nadeem Kassam, listed respectively—made the top 16 in addition to junior Robert Rye and sophomore Justin Hayashi.
Saturday’s matches narrowed 16 down to 4, awarding Mam, Ly and Munday three of four spots in the semi-finals. David Miller proved the only PLU student fortunate enough to make it in.
Also rewarding was Saturday’s surprise victory. First-year combo Nadeem Kassam and Matt Soloman defeated both the #4 seeds (PLU students Floyd and Loranger) and their elder teammates, #2 seeds, seniors Ly and Mam. The dynamic duo competed against David Miller and Justin Larimore in the finals on Sunday, Sept. 24, and won.
On the tournament’s final day singles champion Phalkum Mam and doubles champions Nadeem Kassam and Matt Soloman earned themselves a ride to the Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers to compete with the Southwest regional champions in the ITA National Small College Championships, said to take place Oct. 12-15.
Naturally, the Whitman morale is high. Sophomore Justin Hayashi predicts his team will earn a respectable standing at this year’s national tournament. Hayashi said, “We finished with a national ranking of #21 last year, but this year we will probably be in the top 10. Our coach says our freshman class is the best recruiting class he’s ever worked with at Whitman.”