COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Azusa Pacific overwhelmed No. 7 Vanguard Saturday afternoon in a rematch of last year’s NAIA Tournament quarterfinals, sweeping doubles and cruising to an 8-1 road win over the host Lions. The lopsided result was the widest margin of victory between the 2 teams since 2006, with the last 6 matches between the programs ending in either 5-4 or 6-3 results.
The Cougars recorded a doubles sweep, with the closest match coming at No. 2 for juniors Whitman Hough and Ilja Ikonnikov, who posted an 8-5 win. The other 2 doubles contests were 8-2 results in Azusa Pacific’s favor.
Sophomore Jochem Hoefnagels notched the first of back-to-back straight-set singles wins that clinched the match for the Cougars. Hoefnagels surrendered just 1 game over 2 sets in his No. 2 singles matchup with Vanguard’s Robin Wagner, posting a 6-0, 6-1 win. His victory was quickly followed by freshman Benedikt Eger’s 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 3 singles.
With the match in hand, Azusa Pacific gave up only 1 of the remaining 4 singles matches, posting 3-set wins at No. 1 and No. 5 to go with Ikonnikov’s straight-sets win at No. 6.
With the win, Azusa Pacific evens its season record at 2-2, improving to 2-1 in GSAC play, while Vanguard drops to 2-3 overall, 1-2 GSAC. The Cougars wrap up 4 consecutive road matches with a Wednesday, March 8 visit to No. 5-ranked Concordia.