Photo by Ellen Friedlander
PASADENA, Calif. (Feb. 20, 2017) – Senior Ruthwick Pathireddy (Cerritos, Calif. / Whitney) outlasted the No. 16-ranked player in the nation as Caltech men's tennis hosted No. 30 Brandeis University on Monday night.
Pathireddy ran his record at #1 singles this season to 2-0 with the stunning upset of Michael Arguello, who made it to the finals of the Fall ITA Northeast Regional and entered this season ranked No. 16 in all of Division III.
The Judges came out on fire in their opening match of the spring, taking early leads at both #2 and #3 doubles before getting a late break at #1 to carry a 3-0 edge into singles. All six first sets in singles went Brandeis' way, but the match was paused momentarily as a steady mist began to accumulate on the courts by 7 p.m. Fortunately, after a 15-minute wait the courts were again playable, and the break seemed to serve Caltech well as only one court failed to win at least three games in the second set. Brandeis soon pulled within one point of the clinching match, but the Beavers made the visitors work for the final point, which did not come until nearly an hour later.
Brandeis went on to claim the bottom four courts for the 7-0 lead, but both Pathireddy and junior Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) meanwhile had recovered following the break to win their second sets. Nguyen was midway through his third set when the deciding point was registered, while Pathireddy closed his out moments later to head into a super breaker. With both occurring simultaneously on neighboring courts, the tension was borderline overwhelming as the sideline erupted with every point scored by any of the four players.
While Pathireddy and Arguello traded points, Nguyen surged ahead to a 4-2 lead at #2 vs. Northeast Region No. 23 Ryan Bunis before the Judge rattled off four straight points and closed out the match, 7-5. Neither Pathireddy nor Arguello could separate by more than two points through the first 15 played until Arguello jumped on two consecutive for the 9-7 lead and a chance to serve for the match. Pathireddy survived the first match point to regain serve himself and put away both to flip the script, 10-9, with Arguello back on serve. A 12-shot rally followed, with Pathireddy slipping on the lightly misted court and only able to watch as Arguello sent the final ball just wide to hand the Beaver the biggest victory of his young life.
Head Coach Mandy Gamble and the Beavers have a two-week break from competition before picking back up with SCIAC play at No. 6 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Saturday, Mar. 4.