By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University grabbed wins in four of six singles matches, including a three-set battle at #1 singles, as the Bearcats rallied from an early deficit to defeat University of Puget Sound, 5-4, on Saturday, March 10 at the WU Tennis Courts. The Bearcats advanced their record to 2-3 on the season, 1-1 in the Northwest Conference. Puget Sound dropped to 0-7 overall, 0-3 in the NWC.
The signs of a close match were visible right away, as all three doubles matches were competitive. Joe McRoberts and Riley Inn of Puget Sound won #1 doubles over Aaron Schechter (Jr., Seattle, WA/James A. Garfield HS) and Colin Fisher (So., Caldwell, ID/Thomas Jefferson Charter School), 8-4. At #2 doubles, Willamette gained the win, with Gene Perle-Jones (So., Eugene, OR/North Eugene HS) and Owen Burcham defeating Joshua Wah-Blumberg and Lowell Hutton, 8-6.
At #3 doubles, the match required a tie-breaker to decide the pro-set. Byron Graham and Ben Colson earned the win for the Loggers, as they outlasted Luke Hiserman (Fr., Monterey, CA/Pacific Grove HS) and Ethan Frank (Fr., Lahaina, HI/Maui Preparatory Academy) of Willamette, 9-8 (7-1). The win gave Puget Sound a 2-1 advantage in the team standings.
When singles action started, Hiserman quickly moved past Graham in the #5 match, winning 6-2, 6-0. Endy Zarate (Jr., Salem, OR/McKay HS) soon added another quick win for the Bearcats at #6 singles, as he defeated Jose Sebastian Linares, 6-1, 6-0. Willamette held a 3-2 overall lead.
Hutton was victorious for Puget Sound at #4 singles with a 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Burcham. Fisher prevailed for the Bearcats at #3 singles, taking straight-set wins of 6-2 and 6-3 against Wah-Blumberg. Schechter of Willamette added a three-set win over McRoberts, 1-6, 6-4, 6-0, to give the Bearcats a 5-3 lead and clinch the overall victory. Inn of Puget Sound edged out Perle-Jones at #2 singles, 6-3, 7-5, for the final win of the match.
"I knew this was gonna be a team win today and told the team that during warm-ups," Willamette Head Coach Rick Wood said. "After we lost a close third doubles to go down 2-1, Hiserman and Zarate came out and energized the team with quick singles wins. Wins by Fisher and Schechter sealed the team win."
The Bearcats will remain at home on Sunday, March 11 to take on Pacific Lutheran University. Match time at the WU Tennis Courts is scheduled for 10 a.m. (PDT).