GLENDORA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific suffered its first Golden State Athletic Conference defeat in over 7 years Wednesday afternoon, dropping a 5-4 battle with the NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Fresno Pacific to snap the No. 2-ranked Cougars’ GSAC-record 58-match conference winning streak. In addition, Azusa Pacific’s 6-year grasp on the conference title will likely end with a second-place finish for the Cougars, as the undefeated Sunbirds have 2 remaining GSAC contests, both at home against Westmont and Hope International, which have a combined conference record of 2-9 this season.
Azusa Pacific’s last conference defeat was a 5-4 loss to Vanguard on March 31, 2001. The Cougars had won 58 straight GSAC matches since then, although the conference winning streak record was briefly held earlier this year by Vanguard’s women’s basketball program, which won 53 straight conference contests before a Jan. 22 defeat to Point Loma Nazarene. Azusa Pacific, which had won 52 straight men’s tennis matches through the end of the 2007 campaign, regained the record exactly 1 month later, picking up early victories over California Baptist and the record-breaking 54th straight win on Feb. 22, a 9-0 victory over Biola.
The Cougars weren’t about to go down without a fight, taking 2 of 3 doubles matches for a 2-1 lead heading into singles play. Fresno Pacific picked up 3 singles victories in straight sets, although junior Patrick Kur got the Cougars an additional point with a 6-2, 7-6 win over Vicente Joli at No. 2 singles.
With the Sunbirds leading by a 4-3 margin, the attention shifted to a pair of 3-set battles at No. 5 and 6 singles. Freshman Daniel Moore was cruising to a 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory at No. 5, which would bring the teams to a 4-4 deadlock, so the match outcome rested on the result of the third set between senior Art Fatkhiev and Maxime Adam. Fatkhiev had won the opening set, 6-2, but lost 11 straight games to drop the second set, 6-0, and fall behind 5-0 in the third set. Fatkhiev rallied to win 3 games in a row, including a service break to pull within 5-2, but Adam held serve the next time around for the game, set and match wins.
Fatkhiev and sophomore Mathias Weber highlighted the Cougars’ 2-1 lead in doubles, rallying from a 7-5 deficit to tie the match at 7-7 and 8-8, forcing a match tiebreaker. After a Sunbirds service ace tied the 7-point tiebreaker set at 2-2, Fatkhiev and Weber reeled off 5 straight points to pick up the 7-2 win in the tiebreaker for the 9-8 doubles win.
With the defeat, Azusa Pacific drops to 17-3 overall, 6-1 GSAC, while Fresno Pacific remains unbeaten through 15 matches on the season and improves to 6-0 in conference play. The Cougars wrap up the 2008 GSAC slate with a visit to No. 15-ranked Vanguard Saturday afternoon, a contest that gives Azusa Pacific the chance to clinch sole possession of second place in the conference and keep its slim hopes of a share of the GSAC title alive.
Fresno Pacific 5, Azusa Pacific 4
1. Matt Carroll (FPU) def. Matthijs Bolsius (APU), 6-4, 6-4
2. Patrick Kur (APU) def. Vicente Joli (FPU), 6-2, 7-6
3. Fabio Silva (APU) def. Mathias Weber (APU), 6-3, 6-1
4. Marco Foelz (FPU) def. Ronald Chow (APU), 6-0, 7-5
5. Maxime Adam (FPU) def. Art Fatkhiev (APU), 2-6, 6-0, 6-3
6. Daniel Moore (APU) def. Victor Medina (FPU), 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
1. Carroll/Joli (FPU) def. Bolsius/Kur (APU), 8-1
2. Fatkhiev/Weber (APU) def. Foelz/Medina (FPU), 9-8 (7-2)
3. Chow/Moore (APU) def. Adam/Silva (FPU), 8-5