PASADENA, Calif. (Apr. 15, 2016) – For the first time in over a decade, the Caltech men's tennis team won a third regular season SCIAC match in a key 5-4 victory over West No. 16 Chapman University, providing the perfect ending to Senior Day on Friday afternoon.
Having already earned the first national ranking in program earlier this season and a program-record No. 12 West Region ranking, the Beavers have seemingly left little else with which to shock the Division III tennis landscape. Yet Caltech now finds itself tied for second place in the SCIAC standings and in good position to claim its highest finish in the conference since placing fifth for three straight seasons from 1998-2000 and a program-best third in 1996.
The victory improves Caltech's SCIAC record to 3-1 and overall ledger to 9-5, including an 8-1 mark against unranked NCAA opponents, although Chapman did appear in the season's first two national rankings. The Beavers are also 7-4 in regional play, with three of those losses coming at the hands of nationally ranked foes.
Doubles began inauspiciously for the hosts as Chapman jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a surprise 8-4 win at #3, which had been the Beavers' most successful court (10-3) and the Panthers' least (2-11) all season. With what would already appear to be the decisive match in hand, Chapman solidified the 2-1 lead with an 8-6 win at #1 behind West Region No 4 doubles pairing Brett Buford/Charlie Werman while Caltech claimed #2, 8-5.
Chapman wasted no time in singles, increasing the margin to two as West No. 19 Buford closed out #1. Freshman Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) responded immediately with a 6-0, 6-4 victory to maintain his perfect record since moving up to #3, but the Panthers soon moved within one point of clinching the match as junior Ruthwick Pathireddy (Cerritos, Calif. / Whitney) came up short in a tiebreak at #2, 2-6, 6-7 (4).
With their backs against the wall, the Beavers were left relying on what has been their calling card throughout the historic season – depth. Freshmen Andre Liu (Novi, Mich. / Novi) and Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) added another chapter in their storied rookie seasons with hard-fought wins at #4 (6-1, 6-4) and #5 (1-6, 6-1, 6-2), respectively, to level the match, with the decisive #6 matchup headed to a third set after mirror 6-4 first and second sets. Junior Ramsathwick Pathireddy (Irvine, Calif. / Whitney) showed no nerves whatsoever in grinding out the 6-2 win and match clincher, vaulting the Beavers into a tie for second in the conference with their next opponent, the University of Redlands.
The win served as a perfect final home match for the senior trio of Alex Henny (South Portland, Maine / Scarborough), Leonardo Zornberg (Austin, Texas / Liberal Arts & Science Acad.) and three-year captain Rushikesh Joshi (Sunnyvale, Calif. / Archbishop Mitty).
Head Coach Mandy Gamble and the Beavers head out to the No. 15 Bulldogs (14-5, 3-1) tomorrow, Saturday, Apr. 16 for a 10:00 a.m. showdown.