SAN DIEGO, Calif.-- In a battle between two of the top teams in the NAIA, it was the 4th ranked Cougars that came out ahead with a 7-2 win over No. 7 Point Loma Nazarene (7-5; 3-3) on Thursday. Azusa Pacific (13-1; 7-1) clinched the match with Janosch Apelt’s win when he took a three-set victory to close out singles at the No. 1 spot, giving the Cougars a 5-1 edge heading into doubles play before Azusa Pacific won two of three to grab its 10th straight victory.
Jochem Hoefnagels improved to 14-0 in singles, despite dropping the first set in a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Gregory De Andrade at the 2nd position, while Apelt tabbed a 6-7, 7-6, 6-1 win against Tyler Bowman.
Frederik Wilkens had a relatively easy win to open the day for the Cougars, beating KC Ensley 6-1, 6-3 in No. 3 singles just before Ben Eger recorded a 6-2, 6-1 verdict over Diego Tavera in the 4th spot. Following Eger’s match Gary Yam posted a two-set win, defeating Chad Rubin 6-4, 6-4 to give Azusa Pacific a 3-0 lead.
The Sea Lions responded with their first win of the afternoon when Michael Zablan narrowly edged out Ilja Ikonnikov in a three-set decision, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Following the first Cougar loss Hoefnagels and Apelt registered wins to clinch the match before doubles play began as Azusa Pacific moved to 6-1 against ranked opponents this season.
In doubles Point Loma Nazarene got on the board first as Ensley and Tavera tallied an 8-3 win over Daniel Sosnowksi and Wilkens at No. 2. After that Apelt and Hoefnagels grabbed their 11th win as a team this year, defeating Kaster Kaptan and De Andrade 8-5 in No. 1 doubles. Eger and Ikonnikov closed the match with an 8-6 win against Tavera and Andrew Combs for the pair’s sixth straight victory.
The Cougars’ win keeps them in second place in the GSAC standings behind No. 1 Fresno Pacific which sits atop the conference with an unscathed record of 8-0. Azusa Pacific’s next match will be a home tilt against UC San Diego on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.