AZUSA, Calif. -- It may not have appeared to be a drastic change, but Azusa Pacific head coach Mark Bohren’s shuffling of the entire doubles lineup paid off in the form of the team’s first doubles sweep of the year, helping launch the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Cougars to an 8-1 win over NCAA Division II’s No. 35-ranked UC San Diego Friday afternoon at the Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex.
Freshman Jochem Hoefnagels joined forces with senior Matthijs Bolsius at No. 1 doubles, giving Azusa Pacific its first win in 3 matches at the top doubles position this season with an 8-6 victory over UC San Diego’s Erik Elliott and Jake Fellow. Senior Mathias Weber, who partnered with Bolsius in the No. 1 spot in the first 2 matches, bolstered sophomore Janosch Apelt at No. 2, and the tandem posted another 8-6 victory for the Cougars. Senior Ronald Chow and sophomore Alex Lane combined for an 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles, giving Azusa Pacific a 3-0 lead heading into singles play.
The Cougars didn’t take long to close out the match, with Lane kicking off the individual action with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Fellow at No. 3 singles. Apelt wasn’t far behind, knocking off Chapman Chan in straight sets at the No. 2 spot (6-3, 6-2). With the match verdict already in hand, Hoefnagels held off Naveen Dixit at No. 5 singles for another Azusa Pacific victory in straight sets (6-2, 6-4).
UC San Diego’s lone point came with Junya Yoshida’s 6-3, 6-3 victory over sophomore Ilja Ikonnikov, but the Cougars closed out the match with gritty 3-set wins in the 2 remaining matches. At No. 4, Weber bounced back from a difficult second set and fought off several match points in the third-set tiebreaker to walk away with a 6-2, 2-6, 12-10 win over Vincent Nguyen. Bolsius, meanwhile, rallied in the first set to win 7-5, dropped the second set by the same score, then reeled off 6 straight points early in the third set to run away with a 10-4 decision in the pro set.
Azusa Pacific improves to 2-1 on the season, and the Cougars open their 14-match Golden State Athletic Conference schedule Saturday (Feb. 20) at Point Loma Nazarene. The men’s and women’s GSAC clash starts at 12:30 p.m. with men’s singles, which will be followed by men’s and women’s doubles action. Women’s singles play concludes the dual-match men’s and women’s GSAC doubleheader.