Photo by Noelle Davis
PASADENA (Mar. 18, 2017) – Freshman Miha Valencic (Colleyville, Texas / Grapevine) dominated in a deciding third set to clinch a 5-4 victory for Caltech men's tennis over Vassar College on Saturday afternoon.
Valencic, the program's first Top-100 recruit as rated by tennisrecruiting.net, went into a third set at #4 singles along with #1 and #2, with the Beavers needing only one point to take the match. Having led by a break most for the majority of the first two sets, the rookie was broken at 4-3 in the second to fall back on serve. Vassar's Jamie Anderson held serve and took the set, 7-5, to send it to the crucial third, where Valencic channeled his emotion to rocket out to a 5-0 lead and soon finished the job, 6-1.
The Beavers opened the match with a 2-1 lead in doubles thanks to #1 pairing Ruthwick Pathireddy (Cerritos, Calif. / Whitney) and Ramsathwick Pathireddy (Irvine, Calif. / Whitney) and sophomores Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) and Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell), who squeaked out what proved to be an essential 9-7 victory at #2. Caltech then took first-set leads on courts #2-6 in singles, with rookies Connor Soohoo (Redwood Shores, Calif. / Crystal Springs) and Tine Valencic (Colleyville, Texas / Grapevine) making short work of their foes at the bottom two courts to pull Caltech within one point of clinching the match.
Disaster nearly struck the Beavers as Li began to succumb to cramping at #3, eventually watching a 5-2 lead in the first set turn into a 4-6, 6-0, 6-0 defeat that put the match on Miha's shoulders. The freshman proved up to the task, once again coming up in the clutch to move Caltech back to .500 on the season, with all three defeats at the hands of nationally ranked opponents.
Head Coach Mandy Gamble and the Beavers get another crack at a nationally ranked foe in newly minted No. 37 Colby College (4-1) on Tuesday, Mar. 21 at 11 a.m.