SURPRISE, Ariz.-- The No. 10 ranked Azusa Pacific men’s tennis team advanced to its first Pacific West Conference championship match with a 5-0 sweep of Point Loma Friday afternoon at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Club. The Cougars, who narrowly edged out the Sea Lions in each of its three doubles wins, will face top-seed Hawai’i Pacific in the championship match Saturday at 2:00 p.m.
“Obviously getting to the finals of the PacWest was a big goal of ours all season long, and to accomplish that is exciting. Point Loma is a tough team. Things could have been a lot different in doubles, but we were able to go ahead 3-0 and we used that momentum in singles,” said Azusa Pacific head coach Mark Bohren.
“To have a chance at the championship in our second year in the conference is a really neat thing for us. HPU beat us earlier this year and we know how good they are. They have a lot of talent and are obviously a really good team so we’re going to go out there and play like it’s our last match and see what happens. It should be a really tough battle.”
The Cougars (19-5) won each of their doubles matches by just two games, getting a 9-7 win from Jan Meyer and Gary Yam at No. 1 before Azusa Pacific grabbed a 2-0 lead with an 8-6 victory from Pascal Engel and Alan Leahy against Kevin McKelligan and Daniel Milliken at No. 3.
Frederik Wilkens and Tomas Aranguiz then secured Azusa Pacific’s 3-0 lead with an 8-6 defeat of Katpan Kaster and Martin Blaho at No. 2.
In singles play Engel put the Cougars ahead 4-0 with his 6-2, 6-1 win against Blaho at No. 3, before Aranguiz clinched Azusa Pacific’s spot in the title match with his 6-4, 6-3 defeat of McKelligan at No. 6. Meyer was leading 6-3, 5-3 against Brooks Baldinger at No. 1 when the match was finalized, while Wilkens was headed to the third set after splitting the first two 6-2, 4-6 against Michael Zablan.
The PacWest title match is a rematch of the Cougars’ 7-2 loss to HPU earlier this year where the Cougars faced an uphill battle against the Sea Warriors after dropping all three doubles matches. Meyer fell to No. 2 ranked Petr Michnev in three sets, while Wilkens and Engel each posted wins against the reigning PacWest champion.
The championship is slated for 2:00 p.m., Saturday afternoon. For complete coverage of the PacWest tournament, visit the PacWest Tournament Central page.