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March 15, 2011

Tennis Looks to Serve Up Win Against SU

THIS WEEK:  Following a rough weekend that saw the Pacific Lutheran University men's tennis team drop two Northwest Conference matches, attentions must now be turned to Seattle University.  With the losses to Whitworth University and Willamette University this past Saturday, the Lutes have dropped four of their last five and are now barely holding onto eighth place in the conference standings.  Just one match ahead of Lewis & Clark for last place, the Lutes (2-6 overall, 1-6 in NWC play) have won just 18 of 45 games in the past five matches, and are off to their worst start in many years.  Having lost several invaluable seniors from 2010's squad, the Lutes have struggled to find a consistent form throughout the opening of the conference schedule.  Sophomore Taylor Dickey began the year as the team's #1, yet has been substituted for Scott Sheldon as of late due to an exacerbated back injury.  Sheldon dropped his first two matches as the new top hitter in the matches against Whitworth and Willamette, but will hope to bounce back quickly and serve up a victory for the Lutes in the top spot this weekend against Seattle University.

ABOUT THE REDHAWKS:  The Lutes face only one challenge this weekend when they visit the NCAA Division I Seattle University in a non-conference match.  This will be the third straight year that the schools have squared off, with the recent series tied at 1-1.  In 2010, the Lutes squeaked out a 5-4 victory over the Redhawks with key wins from Joel Trudel and Justin Peterson to seal the overall win for the Lutes.  SU has had a bumpy season thus far (2-12 overall) in their all non-conference schedule.  Like the other SU sports, the men's tennis team is not affliated with a conference yet and thus is forced to play a mixed-bag of teams for their spring season.  Freshman Jason Bendiones has been the most consistent player for the Redhawks in 2011, going 9-2 in singles matches. 

SUN AMONGST CLOUDY WEATHER:  A bright spot in an otherwise dreary 2011 Lute tennis season has been the return of sophomore Zack AhYat.  After starting the year slow as the #3 singles player, the Renton, Wash. native is on a three-match win streak in both singles and doubles, and will work to continue this success in the matches to come.  AhYat was sidelined in 2010 after injuring his shoulder at the start of the spring season.

WHITWORTH 7, PLU 2; WILLAMETTE 8, PLU 1:  Pacific Lutheran came out of the short end of a pair of Northwest Conference men's tennis matches played Saturday at the UPS Tennis Pavilion.  The Lutes fell to 2-6 overall and 1-6 in the conference following a 7-2 loss to Whitworth in the afternoon and an 8-1 defeat to Willamette at night. Whitworth is now 5-5 overall, 5-2 in the conference, while Willamette is 5-1 in both.  Zack AhYat had a good match against Whitworth, accounting for both PLU team points. He teamed with Neal Berg for a 9-8 (7-3) win over Henry Williams and Cameron Williams at No. 3 doubles, and then he came back to beat Cameron Williams at No. 4 singles, 6-3, 3-6, 1-0 (10-7).  The Lutes' solo point against Willamette came at No. 1 doubles where AhYat and Scott Sheldon, playing together for the first time this season, recorded an impressive 8-2 win over Michael Baumgartner and Cody Ferguson at No. 1 doubles.  Taylor Dickey, who plays No. 1 singles and doubles for the Lutes, had to retire from his singles match against Whitworth and wasn't available to play against Willamette.

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