GLENDORA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific capped an impressive 3-win week with a 7-2 victory over the NCAA Division III’s top-ranked Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) Friday afternoon at Citrus College. The Cougars opened the week with a 7-2 win over Div. III’s No. 5-ranked Middlebury (Vt.) on March 25, then followed it a day later with a 6-3 victory over No. 2-ranked and defending NCAA Division III national champion UC Santa Cruz.
The victories strengthened Azusa Pacific’s momentum heading into a crucial contest next week, when it will host the NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Fresno Pacific, which is currently unbeaten at 13-0 and just last week defeated NCAA Division I No. 16-ranked University of Illinois, 4-3, in an exhibition match. The Cougars, winners of 6 consecutive GSAC regular-season championships, will put their 58-match conference winning streak on the line against the unbeaten Sunbirds on Wednesday, April 2, in a 2:30 p.m. matchup at Citrus College.
Gustavus Adolphus opened today’s matchup with wins in 2 of the 3 doubles matches, with senior Art Fatkhiev and sophomore Mathias Weber securing Azusa Pacific’s lone doubles point with an 8-2 win at the No. 3 position.
The Cougars responded to the deficit in convincing fashion, sweeping all 6 singles matches, including 5 in straight sets. Sophomore Ronald Chow picked up the first victory at No. 3, posting a 6-0, 6-2 win over Mike Burdakin, and sophomores Jan Friedrich and Weber were soon to follow. Friedrich was a 6-0, 6-0 winner at No. 6, and Weber posted a 6-1, 6-4 victory at No. 2. Freshman Daniel Moore clinched the team victory with a 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 5.
Fatkhiev won in straight sets after winning a second-set tiebreaker, posting a 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) win over Charlie Paukert at No. 4, and sophomore Matthijs Bolsius picked up steam as his match progressed at No. 1. After dropping the opening set, Bolsius bounced back to win 12 of the final 16 games for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Andy Bryan, the No. 2-ranked individual in the NCAA Division III preseason rankings.
With the win, Azusa Pacific picks up its sixth consecutive victory, improving to 17-2 heading into next week’s showdown with Fresno Pacific. A year ago, the Cougars and their conference-record winning streak were all but dead in the water, trailing late in the second set and facing match point against the Sunbirds. Weber fought off the 40-15 deficit and won the next 2 games to force a third set, then finished off the match with a 6-2 win that clinched the team victory.
Gustavus Adolphus wraps up its 4-match swing through southern California with 3 straight defeats, dropping the Gusties to 18-5 on the season.
Azusa Pacific 7, Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) 2
1. Matthijs Bolsius (APU) def. Andy Bryan (GAC), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
2. Mathias Weber (APU) def. John Kauss (GAC), 6-1, 6-4
3. Ronald Chow (APU) def. Mike Burdakin (GAC), 6-0, 6-2
4. Art Fatkhiev (APU) def. Charlie Paukert (GAC), 6-4, 7-6 (7-1)
5. Daniel Moore (APU) def. Ben Tomasek (GAC), 6-4, 6-0
6. Jan Friedrich (APU) def. Aaron Zenner (GAC), 6-0, 6-0
1. Bryan/Paukert (GAC) def. Bolsius/John Phillips (APU), 9-7
2. Burdakin/Kauss (GAC) def. Chow/Moore (APU), 8-5
3. Fatkhiev/Weber (APU) def. Nick Hansen/Tomasek (GAC), 8-2