HONOLULU, Hawai’i-- No. 11 ranked Azusa Pacific had its 22-match winning streak snapped in the semifinals of the Pacific West championship tournament, falling 5-3 to Fresno Pacific in the third meeting between the two powers this season. The Cougars, who beat the Sunbirds twice earlier this year to snap a 12-match losing streak to against Fresno Pacific, couldn’t overcome a red-hot comeback bid as Fresno Pacific advances to face top-seeded Hawai’i Pacific in the championship match on Saturday morning after winning four singles matches.
Azusa Pacific took control early with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles, and got a speedy win from Ben Eger to make it a 3-1 affair in singles play. But the Sunbirds rallied with wins at No. 2 and No. 5 to tie it up. Jan Meyer was then tied with Michael Tymkiw at one set apiece when he retired in the third to suffer his first loss of the season, putting pressure on the Cougars to snare wins at both No. 1 and No. 6.
But the third time proved to be the charm for the Sunbirds as Kirill Sinitsyn upset 11th ranked Jochem Hoefnagels 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to clinch the victory and stop the Cougars one win shy of the school’s all-time record for wins to open the season. Azusa Pacific won its first 23 matches back in 2004, and later made it all the way to the NAIA championship match.
In the last meeting the Sunbirds took two of three in doubles, and pushed the Cougars to the brink before Gary Yam sealed the victory with a three-set win. On Friday Azusa Pacific took control of the match early on, getting wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles. Hoefnagels Meyer posted a quick 8-2 win against Kirill Sinistyn and Kyle Rowe at No. 1, while Yam and Eger gave the Cougars a 2-1 lead with a 9-7 defeat of Stefan Loop and Marco Gabriel at No. 3.
Frederik WIlkens and Whitman Hough lost at No. 2, falling to Michael Tymkiw and Amarit Sanchez by a score of 8-4.
The loss moves the Cougars into the third place match, where they’ll face Grand Canyon (Ariz.) for the third time this year. Azusa Pacific won both meetings.