AZUSA, Calif.-- The NAIA’s No. 4 ranked Azusa Pacific won its 11th straight match, defeating NCAA Div. II No. 16 UC San Diego 6-3 on Wednesday afternoon with an impressive showing in singles play.
After winning the first match of the day at No. 1 doubles the Cougars dug an early hole, dropping No. 2 and 3 doubles to put UC San Diego (12-4) ahead 2-1 going into singles. But Azusa Pacific responded, rattling off five straight wins to clinch its eighth home win of the season. The Cougars (14-1) dropped just two singles sets, both coming well after they clinched on Ilja Ikonnikov’s 6-4, 6-3 sweep at No. 5.
“Every time we play them it’s always a battle. We’ve had a lot of tough matches this season and this was just another one of them,” said head coach Mark Bohren. “The boys stepped up again. We want to be ahead after doubles, but we’re not worried too much. We just feel like we’re going to go out there and compete super hard and we did that really well.”
Highlighting Azusa Pacific’s efforts were a pair of quick wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles. At No. 1 Janosch Apelt sprinted to a 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Chan Chapman, while Jochem Hoefnagels cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Junya Yoshida in the 2nd spot to remain unbeaten this season. For Hoefnagels it was his 15th straight win of the year, while Apelt registered his fourth consecutive victory. In No. 1 doubles the two had no problem putting away Austin West and Devon Sousa, beating the Tritons 8-2 for their 8th win in a row.
Frederik Wilkens gave Azusa Pacific its third singles win of the day with a 6-2, 6-4 showing against West at No. 3, while Ikonnikov clinched the Cougars' sixth non-conference victory of the year with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Sam Ling on court five.
With the result in hand Ben Eger continued his hot play, handing Max Jiganti, who entered today 11-0 at No. 4 singles and 14-1 overall, only his second loss of the year after gutting out a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win at No. 4 for his seventh straight win.
In the day’s final match Gary Yam, who has been accustomed to lengthy contests, fell on a super-tie breaker, 4-6, 7-5, 10-4 as Kona Luu extended his unbeaten streak to 12 matches.
In doubles Hoefnagels and Apelt opened the day with a win, before Azusa Pacific dropped its next two by the slimmest of margins. At No. 2 Yam and Wilkens battled before falling 9-8 (7-2), while Eger and Ikonnikov lost a tight one (9-7) to break their six match win streak.
The Cougars next match is Friday at 1:30 p.m. against Vanguard at home. In the teams’ previous meeting Azusa Pacific came away with a 7-2 win.