May 9, 2009

Courtesy Whitman Athletics

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- The University of California-Santa Cruz, ranked No. 3 nationally, lived up to its advance billing by blanking the Whitman College men's tennis team 5-0 in Friday afternoon's regional semifinals of the NCAA Div. III championships in Santa Cruz, Calif.

The Banana Slugs swept the opening doubles matches for a 3-0 lead and then closed out the match by winning the first two decisions in singles. 

Whitman junior Dan Wilson, playing at No. 3 singles, held a 7-6 (7-5), 2-1 lead when UC-Santa Cruz (UCSC) scored the clinching fifth team point. Wilson's match was one of four in singles left unfinished.

Whitman, winner of the last two Northwest Conference titles, ended its season with an impressive 24-5 record. Friday marked Whitman's third straight appearance in the national championship tournament.

UCSC, which is hosting the four-team regional, advances to play Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) in Saturday's final. CMS, ranked No. 4 nationally, won Friday's other regional semifinal, beating No. 10 Redlands 5-0.

The winner of Saturday's UCSC-CMS match advances to the eight-team national finals, slated for later this month on the Claremont courts.

UCSC's Max Liberty-Point and Ilya Gendelman, the top-ranked doubles duo in the West Region, handed Wilson and senior teammate Justin Hayashi an 8-0 defeat in Friday's No. 1 doubles match. For the eighth-ranked Wilson and Hayashi, it was only their second loss of the season in 23 total matches.

At No. 2 doubles, junior Christoph Fuchs and sophomore Quin Miller dropped an 8-4 decision Jared Kimmel and Marc Vartabedian, who are fifth in the West Region doubles rankings. Fuchs and Miller are No. 12 in the latest rankings.

At No. 3, junior Nadeem Kassam and sophomore Etienne Moshevich fell 8-3 to Max Ortiz and Colin Mark-Griffen.

The Banana Slugs stretched their lead to 4-0 when Vartabedian, a junior, scored a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Miller at No. 6 singles. Gendelman, a senior, followed with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Kassam at No. 4 singles to nail down the team triumph.

In his unfinished match at No. 3 singles, Wilson edged Ortiz, a Banana Slug senior, in the first set and held a one-game advantage in the second.

Three more Santa Cruz seniors held leads in the other matches left unfinished. Liberty-Point led Moshevich 6-0, 5-2 at No. 1, Kamel was up 6-2, 2-2 on sophomore Chris Bailey at No. 2, and Mark-Griffin was in front of junior Jake Cappel 6-2, 5-2 at No. 5.