PASADENA, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2016) – Caltech men's tennis recorded its first-ever victory against a nationally ranked opponent in a 6-3 win over No. 34 Cal Lutheran University on Friday afternoon.
Freshmen Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) and Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) swept both singles and doubles to fuel the Beavers to the historic win, which maintains Caltech's perfect 2-0 start to the season. The Beavers are also 1-0 to start SCIAC play for the first time since 1996-97.
The rookie duo jumped out to a 3-0 lead at #3 doubles while the top courts remained on serve. Senior Rushikesh Joshi (Sunnyvale, Calif. / Archbishop Mitty) and junior Morgan Lebby (Laguna Beach, Calif. / Laguna Beach) went ahead by a break at #1 not long after, with both soon serving for the match. The Kingsmen fought back with a break on both courts but could not come all the way back as the Beavers took the 2-0 lead. Meanwhile, juniors Ruthwick Pathireddy (Cerritos, Calif. / Whitney) and Ramsathwick Pathireddy (Irvine, Calif. / Whitney) stayed on serve right through the tiebreaker, where the pair went ahead 6-4 but ultimately fell, 9-7, making it 2-1 Caltech heading to singles.
With the Beavers needing just three matches to clinch, Ruthwick, Nguyen and Li each took their first sets at #3, #4 and #5 singles while CLU went up at #1. Li quickly closed out #5 (6-4, 6-0), but moments later Joshi succumbed at #1 and the margin remained at one. Liu had won his first set at #6 in the meantime while Nguyen went up by two breaks at #4, but the Pathireddy twins found themselves trailing by a set at #2 and a break in the second at #3.
Nguyen put away his opponent with identical 6-4 scores to bring the Beavers within one and Ruthwick suddenly took control at #3, breaking his foe back and clinching the match in short order, 6-3, 6-4. With the match already decided, both #2 and #6 singles went to superbreakers, with Liu pulling out a 10-8 win while Ramsathwick came up just short, 10-7.
Head Coach Mandy Gamble and the Beavers return to the courts tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 27 at Biola University (2-4).