MOBILE, Ala. -- On the first day of action for any top-seeded team it wants to show that being billed as the best was not a mistake.
Azusa Pacific left little doubt that it has returned to Mobile as one of the strongest teams in the nation and is ready to defend last year’s national championship. The Cougars advanced to Wednesday’s quarterfinal round with a 5-0 win over Point Loma Nazarene in Mobile, Ala.
In a quirky schedule outcome, the Cougars played the Sea Lions for the fourth time this season and wound up winning each of those meetings. However, this was the most important.
Point Loma Nazarene advanced to the second round with a 5-4 win over Benedictine (Kan.) and had been playing quality tennis. Azusa Pacific was well aware that it needed a good all around effort to survive and advance.
The Cougars got off to a great start by sweeping the 3 doubles matches. Each of them was fairly tight but Azusa Pacific came up with some big shots when it needed to. The duo of Patrick Kur and Art Fatkiev were the first team off the court after beating Phillip Wulf and Stephen Sheldon, 8-5. Boris Bakalov and Tom Jelsma continued their outstanding season playing together at No. 1 doubles with an 8-5 win over Christian Gerloff and Jonathan Bowman.
It was capped off by a win at No. 3 doubles by David Goodman and Cole Billings who knocked off the team of Craig Johnson and Sean Sand, 8-6.
Needing just 2 wins out of their singles players, Fatkiev and Jelsma turned up the heat and melted down their opponents. Fatkiev made quick work of Cassidy Crail with a 6-0, 6-0 win. Jelsma, whose serve in particular came on towards the end of the match, beat Johnson, 6-1, 6-0 to clinch the win.
The Cougars will next face Berry (Ga.) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at 11 a.m. pacific time.
#1 - Boris Bakalov (APU) vs. Christian Gerloff (PLNU), 6-4, 2-0 DNF
#2 - Patrick Kur (APU) vs. Phillip Wulf (PLNU), 6-2, 4-0 DNF
#3 - David Goodman (APU) vs. Jonathan Bowman (PLNU), 3-6, 4-0 DNF
#4 - Tom Jelsma (APU) def. Craig Johnson (PLNU), 6-1, 6-0
#5 - Cole Billings (APU) vs. Sean Sand (PLNU), 6-1, 3-2 DNF
#6 - Art Fatkiev (APU) def. Cassidy Crail (PLNU), 6-0, 6-0
#1 - Bakalov/Jelsma (APU) def. Gerloff/Bowman (PLNU), 8-5
#2 - Kur/Fatkiev (APU) def. Wulf/Stephen Sheldon (PLNU), 8-5
#3 - Goodman/Billings (APU) def. Johnson/Sand (PLNU), 8-6