AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific posted a victory in its fourth straight day of competition, defeating the NCAA Div. II’s No. 42-ranked Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University a 7-2 defeat Friday afternoon at the Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex.
The win was the sixth in a row for the NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Cougars, who have won at least 2 of 3 doubles in all 6 matches of the streak. They did it again Friday, using a tiebreaker set to claim the No. 2 doubles point for a 2-1 edge in doubles heading into singles play.
Freshmen Ben Eger and Frederik Wilkens set the Cougars up for the doubles edge with an 8-3 win at No. 3, while the remaining 2 doubles matches both went to set tiebreakers within minutes of each other. At No. 1, Grand Canyon’s Frederic Schoelzel and Stephane Murray edged Azusa Pacific’s top tandem, the previously-unbeaten pair composed of junior Janosch Apelt with sophomore Jochem Hoefnagels, by a score of 9-8 with an 8-6 tiebreaker set.
Juniors Whitman Hough and Ilja Ikonnikov scored 3 straight points, including the first 2 on Grand Canyon’s serve, in the No. 2 doubles tiebreaker set to close out a 9-8 (7-5) win that gave Azusa Pacific a 2-1 edge heading into singles play.
Apelt served match point several times in a testy 3-set back-and-forth affair at No. 1 singles against Schoelzel, who broke Apelt’s serve to tie the third set at 5-5. Facing another tough match against defending NCAA Div. II national champion Barry (Fla.) University tomorrow in a fifth match in 5 days, Apelt retired from the match with the set tied at 5-5, giving Grand Canyon its only singles win.
Hough posted the first of 4 Azusa Pacific straight-set wins, tallying a 6-2, 6-2 win over Kevin Anderson at No. 4, while Eger gave the Cougars a 4-1 lead in the match with a 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 win at No. 3. When Hoefnagels rallied from a set down for a 3-set win at No. 2 singles, he clinched the match win for Azusa Pacific, giving the Cougars a 5-1 lead before Apelt retired his match. Wilkens and Ikonnikov finished off the match with straight-set wins at No. 5 and 6, respectively.
With the win, Azusa Pacific has extended its season-best winning streak to 6, improving to 7-2 on the year. Grand Canyon falls to 5-5 overall. The Cougars wrap up the grueling 5-day stretch against defending NCAA Div. II champion Barry (Fla.), hosting the Bucs on Saturday, March 12, at 11 a.m.