COSTA MESA, Calif. -- All 4 of Azusa Pacific’s singles victories came in straight sets, lifting the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Cougars to a 6-3 road win at No. 6-ranked Vanguard Friday afternoon in Costa Mesa.
The victory over the Lions was Azusa Pacific’s first in Costa Mesa since 2006, and it turns the Cougars’ Wednesday visit to the NAIA’s top-ranked Fresno Pacific into a battle for the early Golden State Athletic Conference lead. Both teams are currently unbeaten in GSAC play.
“It seems like we’re playing all the toughest teams on the road right off the bat, but I think the tough matches we’ve already played have prepared us well,” Cougar head coach Mark Bohren said. “Fresno Pacific will have to play well to beat us, and we’ll have to play well if we want to beat them. That’s all there is to it. They’re a very good team, but we’ve had a very tough schedule to start and this will be another good test.”
Azusa Pacific took a 2-1 lead into singles play, claiming points from No. 2 and 3 doubles wins, and straight-set victories from sophomore Alex Lane (No. 3) and senior Danny Colten (No. 6) put the Cougars in position for the team win with just 1 win in the remaining 4 singles matchups still underway. Sophomore Janosch Apelt capitalized, avoiding a third set with Vanguard’s Lucas Pereira at the No. 2 position by edging Pereira, 8-6, in a second-set tiebreaker that completed a 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) win.
Freshman Jochem Hoefnagels, edged by an 8-6 score in doubles at the No. 1 position with senior Matthijs Bolsius, bounced back for a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) victory at No. 5 singles for Azusa Pacific’s fourth straight-sets singles victory in the match.
“It felt like we were in control of the match from the beginning, and I think that’s because we have a lot of experience on this year’s team,” Bohren said. “For some reason, that place is a nightmare for us to play, and we’ve gotten beat pretty badly the last couple of years there. It’s noisy there due to the neighboring dog park and freeway, and the court plays much differently than we are used to, but Vanguard is a very good team that plays really well there.”
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in GSAC play, while Vanguard drops to 3-3 overall, 3-2 GSAC.