AZUSA, Calif. -- For the second time this season, the NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Azusa Pacific was strong at the top of the lineup, but top-ranked Fresno Pacific wore the Cougars down with depth in a 6-3 victory Monday afternoon at the Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex.
When the teams first met, junior Janosch Apelt posted singles and doubles wins at the top of the lineup for 2 of his team’s 3 points, and he did it again with an 8-4 win at No. 1 doubles followed by a 3-set No. 1 singles victory.
Sophomore Jochem Hoefnagels, who partnered up with Apelt for the doubles win, used the momentum he got from a first-set tiebreaker win to fuel a 6-2 second-set victory and claim the No. 2 singles point with a straight-sets win. Only one other match went to 3 sets, a 6-4, 2-6, 10-6 loss at No. 5 singles for freshman Frederik Wilkens, and Xavier Smith produced a convincing 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 3 singles for Fresno Pacific.
Fresno Pacific claimed the edge heading into singles play, breaking a 1-1 tie with a hard-fought 8-6 win at the No. 2 position, where Cledson Carvalho and Jaime Sanchez-Canamares got past the Cougars’ junior tandem of Whitman Hough and Ilja Ikonnikov.
Fresno Pacific’s singles lineup was adjusted from the last time the teams played. Apelt, who defeated Carvalho in the top spot in the Feb. 21 meeting, took down new Sunbirds No. 1 Kirill Sinitsyn, while Hoefnagels knocked off Carvalho in straight sets at No. 2. The Sunbirds were without Jose Hilla, who played at the No. 4 position in singles in the first matchup this year. Nathan Martinet and Amarit Sanchez each moved up a spot from the last contest to play at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, while Sanchez-Canamares rounded out the singles lineup and posted a 6-1, 6-3 win over Ikonnikov at No. 6.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific drops to 11-4 overall, 7-2 GSAC, while Fresno Pacific improves to 14-2 overall and remains unbeaten through 7 conference matches.
The Cougars, who played 8 matches in an 11-day stretch earlier this month before playing just 1 match last week, are back into another busy week with 3 matches in 5 days. Azusa Pacific hosts Middlebury (Vt.), the top-ranked team in NCAA Div. III, on Wednesday, March 30, and the Cougars take on another highly-ranked GSAC foe when the NAIA’s No. 12 Vanguard visits Azusa on Friday, April 1.