MOBILE, Ala.-- They didn’t exactly come into it riding a wave of momentum, but after a perfect first day at the National Christian College Athletics Association women’s tennis championships, the Cougars showed that they’re a legitimate contender. Azusa Pacific cruised in the first two matches of pool play, sweeping Campbellsville (Ky.) and Olivet Nazarene (Okla.) while dropping just one set in 18 matches at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala.
“They really needed that,” said head coach Mark Bohren of his injury-riddled team that’s entered the NCCAAs on the heels of a disappointing 1-2 showing at the Pacific West Conference championships last month. “Our confidence was a little bit down, and we’ve been fighting through so many injuries. But today everyone played great and I think we’re peaking at the right time. We tried some new lineups at doubles, and the girls responded well. I’m really happy to see us out there getting healthy and playing well because it builds confidence.”
The Cougars’ new doubles lineups had a few issues early on, but still managed to come away with a clean 6-0 combined clip in the two matches. The new No. 1 team of Samantha Kaneta and Danae Ingwaldson took some time before hitting its stride, trailing 7-3 against Campbellsville (10-10) before storming back to take six of the next seven points to notch a 7-5 victory in the tiebreaker.
The No. 2 team of Emily Harris and Kim Koetterheinrich rattled off a quick 8-2 win against the Tigers, while the duo of Brejohn McCrary and Stephanie Quan tabbed its first of two sweeps on the day.
Harris, ranked No. 39 in NCAA Division II, clinched the opening win with a 6-1, 6-0 defeat of 44th ranked (NAIA) Anna Tumanyan at No. 1 after Koetterheinrich sprinted to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Kelsie Peckham at No. 6. The Cougars were leading on all six courts when the match was sealed.
In the second match of pool play Azusa Pacific throttled Olivet Nazarene, combining to outscore the Tigers 24-4 in doubles with a pair of sweeps. McCrary and Quan methodically bageled Lindsey Peterson and Charisma King at No. 3 to open the match, and Harris and Koetterheinrich quickly followed suit with an 8-0 defeat of Ashlan Allison and Taylor Stephens. Ingwaldson and Kanteta wrapped up doubles with an 8-4 win.
In singles action Harris tabbed her second win of the day, beating 17th ranked (NAIA) Aziza Butoyi 6-3, 6-0, and Lindsey Yeom clinched the win with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over King at No. 5. Bethany Duval was on the verge of closing out her match, leading 6-1, 5-3, and McCrary and Kaneta had each posted first set wins before the match was sealed.
The two sweeps brought the Cougars’ total to 11 this season, making it the team’s fifth consecutive match decided by a sweep (3-2). Azusa Pacific will face Palm Beach Atlantic in the final match of pool play on Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m., looking to clinch Pool B’s top-seed with a victory.