CLAREMONT, Calif. -- Eight of Azusa Pacific’s final 10 matches were against teams ranked in their association’s top 15, but the Cougars capped a 9-1 finish through that final stretch of the regular season with a 7-2 road victory over NCAA Division III’s No. 3-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Friday afternoon at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center.
Azusa Pacific, ranked No. 5 in the NAIA, has won of 12 of its last 13 dual matches, with the only defeat coming by a narrow 5-4 margin against the NAIA’s top-ranked Fresno Pacific. The Cougars’ 18-4 regular season was the program’s best since 2007, when it posted a 22-3 regular-season record and finished as NAIA runner-up. The 2010 campaign includes 2 wins over NCAA Division I opponents, victories over 2 of NCAA Division III’s top 3 programs, as well as a 7-3 mark against NAIA Top 10 teams (with 2 of 3 defeats to Fresno Pacific).
The Cougars’ final regular-season contest opened with wins in 2 of the 3 doubles matchups. The No. 2 tandem of sophomore Janosch Apelt and senior Mathias Weber won their 10th straight doubles match, posting an 8-5 win over Eric MacColl and Brandon Wei. The Apelt/Weber team, ranked No. 16 in the NAIA individual doubles rankings, is now 15-1 on the season.
Also picking up a doubles point for Azusa Pacific was the No. 1 tandem of senior Matthijs Bolsius and freshman Jochem Hoefnagels, who notched an 8-4 win over Claremont’s Robbie Erani and Ronald Wu. Senior Ronald Chow and sophomore Alex Lane had their 12-match doubles winning streak halted, dropping an 8-6 decision at No. 3 to Russell Brockett and Mikey Lim.
Bolsius and Apelt posted 3-set wins for Azusa Pacific at the top 2 singles lineup positions, and 3 other Cougars were straight-set winners. Lane rallied from the doubles defeat for his 12th singles win of the year, a 6-1, 6-2 victory at No. 3 over MacColl, and Chow turned in a 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 6. Hoefnagels took 7 of the 9 points in an opening-set tiebreaker and finished with a 6-4 second-set for a No. 4 singles win that gave him a team-high 15 singles victories on the year.
With the regular season now complete, Azusa Pacific turns its attention to the upcoming NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championships, held May 18-22 in Mobile, Ala. The Cougars’ tournament selection and seeding will be based on the final NAIA coaches’ poll, which is due to be released on Tuesday, May 4.