The definition of dominance suggests power and influence over others.
That could easily apply to the Whitman men’s tennis program in the 2010s.
Blues’ athletes compiled a 112-1 record and won 10 Northwest Conference championships.
“It was a good decade. That’s for dang sure,” Whitman coach Jeff Northam said.
Whitman reached the NCAA Division III Tournament’s Sweet 16 in both 2014 and 2015, and advanced to the Elite 8 two seasons ago.
“To make that (the Elite 8) is awesome,” Northam said. “We had dreams about making it. It was one of the cooler stories in sports. That group that came in together bonded and pushed the program up.”
Two of the Blues’ most solid performers were Colton Malesovas and Zach Hewlin. Malesovas was a three-time NWC Player of the Year (2013-15) and Hewlin received similar acclaim in 2016 and 2017.
“Colton didn’t start his freshman year,” Northam said. “He may be the only men’s tennis player to be named PoY three times. He put the team on his back.
“Zach had a storied career,” Northam said. “His was certainly an accomplishment for the decade.”
Another Hewlin accomplishment remembered by Northam, was his run to the semifinals of the 2016 national tournament.
“That year, the tournament was hosted at the famous Stadium at Kalamazoo College,” Northam said of the venue that hosts the USTA boys summer nationals. “In the semis, Zach played the No. 1 from Kalamazoo College and many classes where canceled so people could come out and support the home player. It was an amazing experience for Zach to not only make the semis, but then play in front of a packed stadium of people. It is something neither of us will forget.”
Doubles team Andrew La Cava and James Rivers left their mark on the program too. They reached the championship match of the Fall ITA National Tournament in 2012 and 2013. The twosome ended their careers undefeated against conference opponents.
“Andrew and James were both awesome players and meshed incredibly well together,” Northam said. “I actually didn’t know they never lost a NWC match! It could be argued that together they might have been one of the best doubles combos in the history of our program.”
Chase Friedman earned respect from the Whitman coach during his days in the Blues’ fold. Physical and mental issues absorbed as a freshman were a distant memory by 2018
“It was one of my favorite coaching moments — watching him overcome all of those obstacles,” Northam said.
The credit for this decade-long journey, according to Northam, also belongs to the institution and its backers.
“I am grateful to Whitman for their support of our program and all athletic programs,” Northam said.
“It’s through the efforts by our adminstration and the W Club that all of our sports can offer a truly outstanding experience for our student-athletes.”
Roy Elia can be reached at email@example.com.