AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific, ranked eighth in the NAIA Preseason Coaches Poll, won its eighth consecutive season-opening match, defeating NCAA Div. III’s No. 13-ranked Chapman by a score of none other than 8-0 Friday afternoon at the Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex.
The only thing that kept the Cougars’ season opener from going down in the books as a perfect 9-0 sweep was darkness, which suspended senior Sheryl Bon-Bakalov’s No. 1 singles match against Chapman’s Liz Lewis with the score tied at 5-5 in the second set after Bon-Bakalov won the opening set, 7-6, with a narrow 8-6 tiebreaker win.
However, Bon-Bakalov wasn’t left without a win in Azusa Pacific’s 2011 debut, as she teamed up with freshman Emily Harris for an 8-3 win at No. 1 doubles that got the Cougars off to the first win of a doubles sweep. Junior Natalie McNall and freshman Kim Koetterheinrich claimed an 8-4 win at No. 2 doubles, and senior Casey Wetzig and junior Leah Hoffee were 9-8 winners at the No. 3 position to give Azusa Pacific a 3-0 lead heading into singles play.
McNall, Harris, Wetzig, and freshman Molly Ruby were all straight-set winners in singles, and Hoffee bounced back from an opening-set tiebreaker defeat for the 3-set win at No. 3 singles. Her 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, 10-2 victory at No. 4 pushed the Cougars’ lead to 8-0, with only Bon-Bakalov’s No. 1 singles match still unfinished.
Azusa Pacific has less than 24 hours to savor the season-opening win, as the Cougars take their 1-0 record into an 11 a.m. clash Saturday morning against another ranked NCAA opponent, Div. II’s No. 14-ranked UC San Diego. The teams were last scheduled to meet in a 2009 match in San Diego that was rained out, and the Tritons will be visiting Azusa Pacific’s sparkling Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex for the first time since the facility opened in 2009. The Cougars are 2-3 all-time vs. UC San Diego, splitting the home matches with a 2006 win and a 2008 defeat.
Chapman, which lost its season opener to NCAA Div. I Cal State Northridge earlier this week by a 6-1 margin, drops to 0-2 on the year.