AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s top-ranked Fresno Pacific rallied from a 5-game deficit at No. 1 doubles, winning the set tiebreaker to complete a doubles sweep in a 7-2 win over No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific Monday afternoon at the Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex.
After Sunbird wins at No. 2 and 3 doubles, the Cougars seemed assured of at least 1 point heading into singles play when Azusa Pacific’s No. 1 doubles team, senior Sheryl Bon-Bakalov and freshman Emily Harris won 6 of the first 7 games and moved to within a game of the win at 7-2. However, Fresno Pacific’s Marie Boura and Erika Januskova rallied to win 5 straight games to tie the match at 7-7.
After both teams got a service break to keep the match tied at 8-8, Fresno Pacific reeled off the first 5 points of the set tiebreaker and cruised to a 7-1 win to claim the doubles point and take a 3-0 lead into singles play after an 83-minute doubles match.
Junior Leah Hoffee got Azusa Pacific off to the start it needed in singles play, posting a quick 6-0, 6-2 win over Januskova at No. 5 singles, but Fresno Pacific claimed straight-set wins at the No. 2 and No. 6 positions to clinch the match win. Freshman Kim Koetterheinrichwon an opening-set tiebreaker, then won the third-set super tiebreaker for a 3-set win over Yumiko Justin at No. 4.
Bon-Bakalov forced a tiebreaker in the second set of the No. 1 singles match, but Fresno Pacific’s Sara Celma closed out the straight-set win by edging Bon-Bakalov by 2 points (7-5) in the second-set tiebreak for the 6-3, 7-6 verdict. Harris took Cristina Valladeres to 3 sets, as well, also suffering a 2-point loss (10-8) in the third-set super tiebreaker.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific falls to 14-3 overall, 8-3 GSAC, while Fresno Pacific improves to 10-4 overall and 8-0 in conference play. All 3 of the Cougars’ losses have come against opponents ranked in the top 3 of the NAIA. Top-ranked Fresno Pacific swept the season series with Azusa Pacific while No. 3 Point Loma Nazarene won the first of 2 meetings earlier this month.
The Cougars are back in action on Friday, April 1, hosting the NAIA’s No. 10-ranked Vanguard. Azusa Pacific is home for 5 of its final 6 matches, including a rematch with Point Loma Nazarene in the April 27 regular-season finale.