AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Azusa Pacific won 5 of the 6 singles matches, all in straight sets, to post its 14th win in the past 16 matches with Monday’s 7-2 win at home over No. 9 Concordia. Ten of the Cougars’ 14 wins have come against teams currently ranked in the top 30 of their respective divisions, including 9 wins over top-15 foes.
On Monday afternoon, Azusa Pacific fell short of a doubles sweep by only 2 games, when Concordia’s No. 3 tandem salvaged a point with their 8-6 win over freshmen Ben Eger and Frederik Wilkens. However, the Cougars’ top 2 doubles teams won by a combined 16-3 margin that resulted in a 2-1 lead heading into singles play.
Junior Janosch Apelt recorded a quick straight-sets win over Andrey Potapkin at the top of the singles lineup, although Bruno Santarelli kept the match close with a 6-3, 6-2 win at the No. 3 spot for Concordia. However, the Eagles’ momentum was halted in just minutes, as Santarelli’s win was answered by a No. 4 singles victory from Wilkens and Eger claimed a match-clinching 7-6, 6-4 win at the No. 2 position.
Junior Ilja Ikonnikov led 5-1 in his opening set of No. 5 singles when his opponent retired, and sophomore Alex Dickson wrapped up the 3-hour, 39-minute match with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Abhinauv Venugopal at the No. 6 spot.
Eger’s win was his team-high 14th of the year, and it included an opening-set tiebreaker that he won by winning 5 of the final 6 points of the 7-point tiebreaker. Apelt, who improved to 11-6 on the year, finally closed out his win on his sixth match-point opportunity of the second set. With a 5-3 lead in the set, he took a 40-love lead with 3 chances to break the serve of Potapkin, who reeled off 5 straight points to extend the set by a game. With his lead trimmed to 5-4, Apelt gave up another point with a 40-30 lead to force deuce, finally converting his second advantage opportunity after deuce for the win.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 14-4 overall, 9-2 GSAC, while Concordia drops to 6-10 overall and 5-6 in conference play. The Cougars return to action when they visit Biola on Friday, April 8, the first of back-to-back road matches before wrapping up the regular season at home against Point Loma Nazarene on Wednesday, April 27.