AZUSA, Calif.-- For the first time in program history the Azusa Pacific women’s tennis team recorded a win over Fresno Pacific, beating the Sunbirds 5-4 on Monday afternoon behind an impressive comeback, and a crucial victory from its captain. With the score tied 4-4 Emily Harris battled Petra Jurova to three sets, eventually wearing down the sixth ranked player in the West Region to come away with the clincher.
In the final game Harris trailed 40-15, but rallied to deuce on Jurova’s serve before slamming home the winner on her second match-point to put an exclamation point on the Cougars’ first-ever win over a Sunbird program that has been nothing short of dominant since it began competing in 2006. Harris’ victory, a 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 1, was the final in a jaw-dropping comeback for Azusa Pacific, which trailed 4-1 early in singles action.
“At the end of the day it was just another match, but it meant so much more than that. They never lost a GSAC match, so to be the first of that group of schools to get a win is really cool, and it was huge for Emily to get the final win. We were all confident that she was going to pull through, and it was just such a special moment,” said head coach Mark Bohren. “We were down 4-1, but we knew we were stronger at the bottom and we rallied. It was just another thing that these girls can be proud of, knowing that they were the first to get them.”
The Cougars closed in fashion, getting each and every one of their must-wins with the Sunbirds on the verge of handing Azusa Pacific (13-3) its second home loss of the year. Lindsey Yeom kicked off the comeback, rolling Erin Carlson 6-0, 6-2 at No. 5. Kim Koetterheinrich followed that up with a double-bagel victory (6-0, 6-0) over Nicole Simoni at No. 6.
Samantha Kaneta continued the surge with a 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Anna Mikhaylova at No. 4, before Harris closed things out with her three-set win at No. 1.
Fresno Pacific jumped ahead 2-0 in doubles. Danae Ingwaldson and Harris fell to Marie Boura and Jurova 8-4 at No. 1, and Kaneta and Brejohn McCrary dropped a tight 9-8 (7-5) match to Mikhaylova and Erika Januskova at No. 2. The Cougars registered their first win of the day when Koetterheinrich and Yeom tabbed an 8-2 win over Erin Carlson and Simoni at No. 3.
The victory snaps an 18-match losing streak to Fresno Pacific dating back to 2006. In that span the Sunbirds knocked the Cougars out of the playoffs three times, and own the largest margin of victory in the series with a 9-0 sweep of the Cougars back in 2008. Azusa Pacific, however, has been inching towards a win, twice taking four matches against Fresno Pacific last season, and falling 6-3 in Fresno earlier this year.
“There have been a number of times where I thought we were going to beat them, but they’ve always found a way to escape with a win. I’m happy we finally did it, and I couldn’t be happier with the way we played today,” said Bohren.
Azusa Pacific will enjoy a week off before returning to action against Cal State L.A. next Monday. The Cougars beat the Eagles 7-2 earlier this season.