AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific freshman Boris Bakalov won the 2002 Omni Hotels/ITA Western Regional Championship last weekend to advance to the upcoming National Small College Championships, presented by the USTA, Oct. 17-20 at the H.E.B. Tennis Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Bakalov, the tournament's top seed, defeated Andres Zingman from Alliant International in the finals when Zingman defaulted. The freshman from Germany becomes the first Cougar to win the regional championship and advance to the national tournament.
Five of the 6 Cougars advanced past the first round with Adam Davidson and Jeff Melnick joining Bakalav in the quarterfinals. In double's action, the Cougars' top-seeded team of Bakalav and Davidson advanced to the semifinals, before falling 8-6 to a team from Alliant International.
At the Omni Hotels/ITA National Small College Championships each division (men's and women's singles and doubles) consists of the eight champions from the regional tournaments, from which a national (divisional) champion is determined during the first two-and-a-half days of competition. These national champions from each division square off in the "Super Bowl" of Small College Tennis (during the weekend) to determine the overall Omni Hotels National Small College Champions (who then earn berths into the Omni Hotels National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, a Division I event).
These championships are the only national tournaments for singles and doubles at the NCAA Division II and NAIA level, and the only tournaments that combine all levels of Junior/Community Colleges (NJCAA Divisions I, II and III, and California Community Colleges). Participants are determined through the Omni Hotels Regional Championships, held in September and October, which serve as qualifying tournaments. The Omni Hotels/ITA National Small College Championships began in 1986 and annually crowns men's and women's singles and doubles national champions in each of the ITA's four small college divisions (NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College) during the month of October.
On the women's side, Mayu Sato was the lone Cougar to advance past the opening round. She defeated Biola's Bethany Scott (6-3, 5-7, 6-1) before falling to Rebecca Tornquist of Alliant International (6-3, 6-2) in the second round. No Cougar women's doubles' team advanced past the first round.