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A Test Of Character

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Published
April 4, 2011
By
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific got a pair of come-from-behind wins when it only needed one, a pair of comeback wins in the final 2 singles matches that lifted the Cougars to a 6-3 win over No. 8-ranked Concordia Monday afternoon at the Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex.

When senior Sheryl Bon-Bakalov held off Bettina Radke for a 6-1, 7-5 victory at No. 1 singles, it gave Azusa Pacific a 4-3 lead and put the Cougars 1 win away from posting a season sweep of Concordia. Unfortunately, neither of the 2 remaining singles matches had started well for the Cougars, who dropped the opening set in each.

At No. 5, junior Leah Hoffee had to battle back from a 6-2 deficit, and senior Casey Wetzig dropped her opening set at the No. 6 spot by a 6-4 score. Hoffee evened things up in her match with a 6-3 second-set win, and she picked up steam throughout the third set while Wetzig forced a third set with a 7-5 second set.

Just moments before Wetzig was to begin a full third set, Hoffee finished off her 3-set victory going away with a 6-1 third set to clinch the match for the Cougars and allow Wetzig to wrap up her match with a 10-point super tiebreaker set. Wetzig and Concordia’s Summer Beaird each fought off a pair of match points to reach a 12-12 tie before Wetzig poured every last ounce of energy she had into a match-winning forehand winner for the 14-12 win.

Hoffee and Wetzig had earlier combined for a crucial doubles win, giving Azusa Pacific the doubles edge with their 8-6 win at the No. 2 spot after the teams split the No. 1 and 3 doubles matchups. Also winning in doubles was the Cougars’ No. 3 tandem of junior Natalie McNall and freshman Molly Ruby, who posted an 8-2 win to improve to 10-1 together in doubles play this year.

Freshman Emily Harris raced to a 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 4 singles, posting a perfect 6-0 set for the 15th time this year while improving her individual singles record to 13-3 to give Azusa Pacific a 3-1 edge in the match. Concordia answered with straight-set wins from No. 2 and 3 singles, but Bon-Bakalov put the Cougars back in front, 4-3, with her No. 1 singles win.

With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 16-3 overall and 10-3 in GSAC play, while Concordia drops to 10-6 overall, 7-5 GSAC. The Cougars continue a stretch of 6 straight matches at home when they host Biola in a 1:30 p.m. matchup on Friday, April 8.