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Azusa Perfection

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Photo by Chris Baker
Whitman Hough served as one of the captains of Azusa Pacific's first ever perfect regular season.

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April 8, 2013
Chris Baker
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AZUSA, Calif.-- In sports perfection of any kind, at any level, is notable. But a perfect season against one of the toughest schedules in the country is nothing short of remarkable.

On Monday afternoon the 11th ranked Azusa Pacific men’s tennis team made history, closing the regular season with a perfect sweep of Biola to earn its 21st consecutive victory and finish as one of only two teams in Division II with an unblemished mark (Barry being the other at 20-0).

“It’s a big deal. I’ve been doing this close to 20 years. We’ve had some really good teams: national champions and runners up. But never have I had a team finish the regular season undefeated,” said head coach Mark Bohren. “It’s such a testament to our captains and our seniors. They worked so hard. They set goals, and met them, and it’s been a total team effort.”

Making the year even more special is how the Cougars got to the end unscathed (21-0). Azusa Pacific twice got through a Fresno Pacific squad that had handed the Cougars 12 consecutive losses, and registered 10 wins against teams ranked inside the ITA Coaches poll.

“It’s pretty special. It’s nice to be part of a team that started so successfully, and kept it up throughout. It shows that the team followed what Whitman Hough and I had intended as captains,” said Jochem Hoefnagels, who experienced personal perfection with a 21-0 regular season record as a junior.

“Going undefeated last year was awesome, but this year there’s a better feeling because we did it as a team and we beat Fresno Pacific. It was a huge thrill to get that first win in Fresno. I played some of my best tennis up there. So to get the monkey off our back against a team that has been dominating felt great.”

And while Hoefnagels saw his unbeaten streak snapped earlier this season, Azusa Pacific saw another player run the gauntlet without a loss as freshman Jan Meyer made Cougar history, improving to 20-0 with a blitzing victory over Isaiah Pekary at No. 3 to become the first freshman to post a perfect mark (10+ matches).

“To do what he did is very hard to do. For a senior to go through undefeated is huge, but for a freshman, that’s an unbelievable accomplishment,” said Bohren. “We had so many guys put together awesome seasons. You see Jochem and Gary Yam with just two losses, Ben Eger with only one, and Frederik Wilkens with just four as our No. 2, and it’s so impressive. When one guy falls, others have stepped right up, and that’s what’s been special. It just goes to show that if everyone works hard, good things happen.”

On Monday the Cougars didn’t drop a set to the Eagles (2-16), bageling Biola in six sets. Wilkens, who dedicated his first set sweep to Hough, and second set win to Hoefnagels, was perfect in his own right, tabbing a 6-0, 6-0 victory against Brandon Chang to seal the Cougars’ win after Meyer kicked off singles action with a defeat of Pekary.

Hough followed that up with a 6-2, 6-0 win against Chris Evans, while Daniel Sosnowski recorded his first win of the year, beating Greg Cobian 6-1, 6-2 at No. 6. Joseph Remington then captured 6-0, 6-4 defeat of Rodric Pence.

In the final home match of his career, Hoefnagels fittingly ended the day, posting a 6-0, 6-1 win against Davi Mossman at No. 1 to improve to 19-2 on the year.

In doubles the Cougars stormed past Biola, with the senior duo of Hoefnagels and Hough beating Mossman and Pekary 8-4 at No. 1. Wilkens and Meyer teamed up for the first time all year, and dominated in a 8-2 victory against Chang and Pence, while Sosnowski and Eger had no issues in their second match together, beating Cobian and Evans 8-2.

Azusa Pacific will now enjoy an extended break before trekking to Hawai’i for the Pacific West Championships on April 18-20, where it may face its toughest challenger yet in No. 5 ranked Hawai’i Pacific. The Cougars will then travel to Mobile, Ala. for the NCCAA National Championships on May 7-10.