AZUSA, Calif.-- After taking two of three in doubles play and leading 4-1 at one point, the NAIA’s 5th ranked Azusa Pacific fell to the NCAA Div. III’s 9th ranked Middlebury (Vt.) 5-4 to break the Cougars’ 10-match winning streak as Azusa Pacific (13-2) succumbed to the Panthers (6-0) with four consecutive losses in singles play.
With the match knotted at 4-4 Danae Ingwaldson battled Dorrie Paradies at No. 5 with each player taking a 7-6 win after two sets. Then in the deciding third Ingwaldson was down 2-1, and had her serve broken to make it 4-1 in favor of Paradies. After breaking Paradies to make it 5-2 Ingwaldson held serve despite trailing love-15, scoring four straight to make it a 5-3 affair. In the final game she got the first point to keep the rally going before Paradies sealed it with a 6-3 win.
Just prior to that Cougar loss Nakieta Hein and Brittney Faber traded 7-6 wins before Hein was forced to bow out despite leading the third set 1-0 after she began cramping. At No. 6 singles Kim Koetterheinrich fell to Katie Paradies 6-7, 7-6 (7-3) after Natalie McNall suffered a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Lok-Sze Leung in the 1st position to open a 4-match streak for the Panthers.
A bright spot for Azusa Pacific was Leah Hoffee’s 13th straight singles win. The senior swept Victoria Aiello 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 to remain unbeaten on the season. Emily Harris also kept her hot streak going, defeating Leah Kepping 6-1, 6-3 at No. 3 singles to notch her 8th straight victory.
In doubles the Cougars nearly notched a sweep when Molly Ruby and McNall fought back from a 7-2 hole, breaking a pair of Panther serves to make it a 7-6 match. But Middlebury held off the duo to tab its first win of the day as Anna Burke and Leung posted an 8-6 victory.
At No. 1 doubles Harris and Ingwaldson notched an 8-4 defeat of Kepping and Faber, while Hoffee and Koetterheinrich made quick work of Aiello and DeeDee Myers at No. 3 win an 8-1 win to start the day for the Cougars.
On Friday Azusa Pacific will have a chance to start a new streak when the Cougars, who suffered their first defeat at home this season, welcome Vanguard to the Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex for a 1:30 p.m. start. Azusa Pacific defeated the Lions 7-2 in the teams’ first meeting on Feb. 25.