Photo by Ellen Friedlander
PASADENA, Calif. (Mar. 9, 2016) – Junior Ruthwick Pathireddy (Cerritos, Calif. / Whitney) came up clutch in both doubles and singles to lift No. 40 Caltech men's tennis to a 5-4 victory over an underrated Central Region No. 16 Wabash College squad on Wednesday afternoon.
Caltech moves back above .500 overall and is now 3-1 against Division III opponents, while Wabash dips to 8-6 overall.
The #3 doubles pairing of freshmen Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) and Andre Liu (Novi, Mich. / Novi) picked up an early break while both other courts held serve and soon closed out an 8-1 victory. Meanwhile, the Beavers fell behind at #1 but Pathireddy and senior Rushikesh Joshi (Sunnyvale, Calif. / Archbishop Mitty) broke their opponents' serve at #2 to lead 6-3. As Wabash tied the match with an 8-4 win at the top spot, Pathireddy and Joshi moved within a game of taking the second court before a nail-biting rally from the Little Giants duo. Wabash fought back on serve and led 0-15 looking to break the Beavers and take the crucial second doubles point, but Caltech's experienced veterans buckled down and held serve, then got the break themselves to carry the 2-1 lead into singles.
Caltech took early first-set leads at the bottom four courts to start singles. Liu and Li soon claimed sets at #5 and #6, respectively, while Wabash took the lead at #1 and #2. With both middle courts locked in tight battles, Li earned the first singles point at #6, giving up just a single game in each set. Pathireddy began to pull away at #4 but Wabash responded right away with a narrow win at #1 (6-4, 6-4) to keep the overall match tight.
Liu picked up the Beavers' fourth point with a 6-0, 6-2 win at #5, but once again the Little Giants matched almost immediately with a 6-3, 6-1 victory at #2. With Caltech needing just one point from the remaining two courts to clinch, Pathireddy obliged, 6-1, 6-2, moving Caltech back above .500 on the season.
Head Coach Mandy Gamble and the Beavers will continue the defense of their national ranking next weekend, when they host Southwestern University (6-4) on Saturday, Mar. 19 at 11:00 a.m. and No. 39 Pacific University (8-1) on Monday, Mar. 21 at 11:00 a.m. to kick off a busy Spring Recess schedule.