PASADENA (Apr. 12, 2019) – The 25th-ranked Caltech men's tennis team secured its highest-ranked win in program history on Friday evening, against a SCIAC foe no less.
The Beavers took down No. 14 Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in a rematch of last year's SCIAC playoff match. After the second-seeded Sagehens got the better of the third-seeded Beavers in last year's postseason tournament, Caltech sought revenge and got it thanks to some clutch performances late and a healthy start in doubles action. Senior Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) scored one the first of two victories on the day alongside freshman Patryk Kozlowski (Irvine, Calif. / University High) at second doubles, where the duo defeated their opponents, 8-5. Fourth-ranked sophomores Varun Shanker (Midland, Mich. / Midland Dow) and James Wei (Chappaqua, N.Y. / Horace Greeley) also picked up a victory at first doubles, winning their match over another regionally ranked foe, 8-4, to give the home team an edge as play shifted toward singles action.
Despite jumping out to a 2-1 lead, Caltech then fell behind, 3-2, with Pomona-Pitzer taking the first two singles matches. The Beavers would knot things at three points apiece, however, when Wei rallied from one set down to defeat No. 31 Josh Gearou, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, eventually finding an edge with his power stroke. Likewise, Shanker needed to rally from a set down but also beat Jed Kronenberg, the 10th-ranked player in the nation. Though Shanker entered Friday's match as the higher-ranked player, he had also yet to beat Kronenberg and found himself trailing the Sagehens' top player after a highly competitive 5-7 first set. Shanker went blow-for-blow with his opponent in the second set as well and came out on the winning end 7-5 before roaring to a 6-0 third set to give Caltech the lead back with two matches to go.
Nguyen and Kozlowski each found themselves in three-set battles on courts five and six, though Nguyen would go on to seal the deal for the Beavers in front of their home fans. Nguyen, playing at fifth singles, broke his opponent in the final game of the match and won, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Kozlowski, meanwhile, came up just shy of making it a 6-3 Caltech win following the clincher from his doubles partner (2-6, 6-4, 6-4). Caltech is now 2-2 in SCIAC play, good for fourth in the standings as it hopes to secure its second-straight SCIAC postseason tournament bid next month.
Head Coach Jason Cohen and the Beavers have a tall task in front of them when they travel to newly minted nationally ranked No. 1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Friday, Apr. 19 at 3 p.m.