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Baptism By Fire

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Published
May 14, 2008
By
Joe Reinsch

MOBILE, Ala. -- Fourth-seeded Azusa Pacific frustrated fifth-seeded California Baptist with a momentum-gathering, come-from-behind doubles win, and the Cougars quickly dashed the Lancers’ comeback hopes with a trio of straight-sets singles victories for a 5-1 win in Wednesday’s quarterfinals of the 57th Annual NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championship.

California Baptist was making its first national tournament appearance since 1993 after reinstating its tennis programs prior to the 2007 season.

After the teams split the top 2 doubles, Azusa Pacific’s No. 3 tandem of Ronald Chow and Daniel Moore overcame a 7-6 deficit to take 3 straight games for the 9-7 win that sent the Cougars into singles play with a 2-1 advantage. The victory improves Azusa Pacific’s overall record to 20-7 and sends the Cougars into the national semifinals for the sixth consecutive tournament. No other program has appeared in 6 straight semifinals since the NAIA introduced the national tournament’s current team format in 2000.

Mathias Weber, who teamed with Patrick Kur for an 8-4 win at No. 2 doubles, registered the Cougars’ first singles point with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Patrick Olobo, who played deep into a third set Tuesday in California Baptist’s narrow 5-3 second-round victory over unseeded Bethel (Tenn.).

Weber’s win gave Azusa Pacific a 3-1 lead, and Chow wasn’t far behind, pulling away in the second set for a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Moti Eisikovits at No. 4 singles. The Cougars had won the opening set in 3 of the 4 remaining matches, although Matthijs Bolsius was headed to a third set after a 6-0 defeat to Alessandro Ventre in their second set at No. 1 singles.

Kur ended up clinching the team victory when he closed out a tough 6-4, 7-5 win at the No. 2 position over Carlos Cirne-Lima, who accumulated repeated warnings from the referee for various infractions throughout the match. Jan Friedrich won the opening set at No. 6 singles in his first-ever NAIA Tournament experience, although the match ended with his second set still in progress.

The Cougars take on 2-time defending NAIA champion Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), in a semifinals matchup featuring a pair of programs who have combined for 5 of the past 6 national titles. Azusa Pacific suffered back-to-back 5-0 defeats to Auburn Montgomery in each of the past 2 NAIA title matches.

Azusa Pacific 5, California Baptist 1

SINGLES
1. Matthijs Bolsius (APU) vs. Alessandro Ventre (CBU), DNF
2. Patrick Kur (APU) def. Carlos Cirne-Lima (CBU), 6-4, 7-5
3. Mathias Weber (APU) def. Patrick Olobo (CBU), 6-3, 6-1
4. Ronald Chow (APU) def. Moti Eisikovits (CBU), 6-4, 6-2
5. Daniel Moore (APU) vs. Karlis Miljons (CBU), DNF
6. Jan Friedrich (APU) vs. Rafael Dal-Ri (CBU), DNF

DOUBLES
1. Cirne-Lima/Ventre (CBU) def. Bolsius/Dabbs (APU), 8-6
2. Kur/Weber (APU) def. Eisikovits/Miljons (CBU), 8-4
3. Chow/Moore (APU) def. Dal-Ri/Olobo (CBU), 9-7