SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth will officially open its 2018 men's tennis Northwest Conference schedule this weekend with a pair contests. The Pirates will play Pacific (Ore.) on Saturday at 10:00 am. Then the Bucs host Linfield on Sunday, also at 10:00 am.
Head coach Mike Shanks is in his 19th season leading the Pirates. Whitworth is coming off a 6-11 season in 2017 in which they went 6-6 in the Northwest Conference and almost qualified for the conference tournament.
The Bucs are off to an 0-6 start in non-conference matches this season. That record is deceptive. Three of the losses are to NCAA Division I opponents and another is to nationally-ranked Whitman.
The Pirates return several key contributors from last season, led by Ian Fisher, the only senior on the 2018 roster. Fisher finished 8-9 in singles in 2017, including a 6-6 record against NWC opponents. Most of his matches were at #3 on the ladder.
Sophomores Ben Bethards and Jake Bethards moved into the starting lineup on a regular basis as freshman in 2017. Jake is playing most matches at #1 this season, while Ben has split between 3rd and 4th on the ladder. Jake finished 11-6 in singles last spring, while Ben went 3-8.
Junior Nick Hughes is the only other returnee with playing experience. He went 3-5 in 2017.
As always, the doubles teams will be a work-in-progress as Shanks figures out his best combinations of players.
After this weekend's matches Whitworth will hit the road next weekend for contests at George Fox and Lewis & Clark.