VENTURA, Calif. (Apr. 26, 2017) – A record 11 Beavers – five women and six men – from Caltech tennis will compete at the 117th Annual Ojai Valley Tournament this Thursday through Saturday.
The national No. 40 Caltech women will compete in the Independent College draw that includes Division III, Division I and NAIA opponents, while the men are split between the Division III competition and Independent College draw.
Five of the eight members of the women's team are available to play singles, while two doubles teams will represent the Beavers. Four will receive byes into the second round as fewer than 40 participants are entered in the 64-player bracket, with junior Vinci Chen (Austin, Texas / Westwood) the only Beaver set for a first-round matchup. She will square off against Biola University's Kelsey Post, who has posted a 6-12 record at #4 and #5 singles this season. Chen would appear to be the favorite based on last year's dual match with the Eagles, in which she won at #1 singles while Post fell at #5, but would face the #2 seed from Abilene Christian University, Erin Walker, in the second round.
Tough potential third-round matchups abound for the other Beavers as well. Sophomore Kana Moriyama (Redmond, Wash. / Redmond) has the most favorable draw in Whittier College's Amanda Rodriguez, whom Moriyama beat this past Saturday, 6-0, 6-4. Another victory likely would pit her against #7 seed Samantha Mae Coyiuto, who plays #4 singles for No. 5 Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. Freshman Angelica Zhou (Temple City, Calif. / Arcadia) also faces another Poet, Venezia Moyano, who lost at #4 on Saturday while Zhou cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win at #2. Her likely opponent in the third round the next day is #4 seed Whitney Williams from ACU, who has gone 16-7 at #2 and #3 singles for the Wildcats.
Senior Sophia Chen (Newport Beach, Calif. / Corona Del Mar) and junior Erin Wang (Auburn, Calif. / Del Oro) are set to challenge a pair of Biola players in Lauren Lee and Madeline Heer, respectively. Lee has posted an 8-10 record at #3 singles for Biola and is ranked No. 16 in the West region, while Heer is the Eagles' top singles player and ranked 12th regionally, although she has played to just a 4-17 record with a Universal Tennis Rating only marginally higher than Wang's. Should either of the Beavers advance, Chen would face the #3 seed and Wang would be matched up against top-seeded Caroline Casper of Pomona-Pitzer.
Moriyama and Wang will pair up in doubles, while Sophia Chen and Zhou will make their debut together in the absence of their typical partners. The former duo will face UC Santa Cruz's top doubles team of Vera Smekalina and Claire Stoner, with Chen and Zhou gearing up for a SCIAC battle against Cal Lutheran University's Gianna Cupo and Sarah Seeman, which defeated Zhou and rookie Alexandra Bodrova (Russia / Kurchatovskaya School), 8-6, back on Mar. 3. Their likely opponents in the following round would be #4 seed Emily Chen/Joy Kim (Pomona-Pitzer) and #2 seed Sarah Adams/Erin Walker (ACU).
Three men's players will compete in the 32-player Division III singles bracket, with senior Morgan Lebby (Laguna Beach, Calif. / Laguna Beach) slotted into the Independent College draw. He will team with sophomore Praful Vasireddy (Tulsa, Okla. / OSSM) in the Independent doubles contest as well, while the Beavers field another two doubles tandems in the Division III draw. Lebby is matched up against Westmont #5 singles player and fellow senior Tommy Nightingale, who holds a marginal edge over Lebby in UTR. A win in the tournament-opening 8 a.m. match would put Lebby in line to take on #5 seed and NAIA West #3 Kyle Rae of Hope International University later that morning. He and Vasireddy are set to take on Westmont #2 doubles pairing John Jones/Luke Whalen, with the #3 seed ACU Sheehy brothers looming later that afternoon.
Senior Ruthwick Pathireddy (Cerritos, Calif. / Whitney) has been given a chance to avenge an earlier loss against UCSC's top singles player, Chad Stone, who is ranked one spot higher at No. 15 in the West Region and narrowly won their matchup approximately one month ago, 7-5, 6-4. Pathireddy would draw #5 seed Parker Wilson, who has gone 12-4 at #2 for No. 10 University of Redlands this spring, in the next round. Sophomore Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) could be considered a slight favorite in his first-round matchup with George Fox University's Alex Namba, who is 7-4 at #3 singles but just 2-4 at #2 against a lighter schedule than Nguyen has faced. West Region No. 9 Clark Winninger (Pacific) awaits the winner, assuming he advances as the clear favorite in his match.
Sophomore Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) drew the opening match in #7 seed Daniel Morkovine, the highest-ranked #3 singles player in the region at No. 20 for No. 3 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges. His draw is no more favorable in doubles either; he and Nguyen will challenge the top seed, West No. 3 Redlands duo Joey Dulle/Jake Ly. Ruthwick will team with twin Sathwick Pathireddy (Irvine, Calif. / Whitney) in a seemingly winnable match against Pomona-Pitzer's Avery Bicks/Marko Mandic, considering the Beavers duo upset PP's top team of Antony Bello and All-American Spencer Simonides on Apr. 8. A tough second-round matchup against the winner of Pacific's Wininger/Wight (West No. 7) and UCSC's Sean Hollister/Chad LeDuff could spell trouble against the inconsistent Caltech duo, although the aforementioned win over the West No. 3 PP tandem illustrates their considerable upside.
The women's team has earned the #4 seed in next weekend's SCIAC Championships and will host Cal Lutheran University on Friday, May 5 at 3:00 p.m. while the #7 seed men travel to No. 10 Redlands.
Thursday, Apr. 27 (Pierpont Racquet Club)
Moriyama d. Rodriguez (WC), 6-3, 6-0
Zhou d. Moyano (WC), 6-0, 6-0
Lee (BU) d. SChen, 6-2, 7-6 (5)
Post (BU) d. VChen, 6-1, 6-2
Heer (BU) d. Wang, 0-6, 6-2, 6-3
Smekalina/Stoner (UCSC) d. Moriyama/Wang, 6-4, 6-4
SChen/Zhou d. Neumann/Seeman (CLU), 4-6, 6-3, 11-9
Friday, Apr. 28 (Men's matches played at Camino Real Park, women's R16 at Ventura College, Quarterfinals at Pierpont Racquet Club)
Nightingale (Westmont) d. Lebby, 7-5, 6-4
#7 Coyiuto (PP) d. Moriyama, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1
#4 Williams (ACU) d. Zhou, 6-3, 6-1
Stone (UCSC) d. Ruthwick, 6-2, 7-6 (3); Ruthwick d. Bird (Oxy), 6-2, 7-6 (5)
#7 Morkovine (CMS) d. Li, 6-0, 6-1; Coe (Oxy) d. Li, 1-6, 7-6 (6), 10-7
Namba (GFU) d. Nguyen, 6-2, 6-2; Kashani (CLU) d. Nguyen, 6-2, 6-3
Jones/Whalen (Westmont) d. Lebby/Vasireddy, 6-1, 7-6 (3)
#2 Adams/Walker (ACU) d. SChen/Zhou, 7-5, 6-4
#1 Dulle/Ly (UR) d. Li/Nguyen, 8-3
Bicks/Mandic (PP) d. Pathireddy/Pathireddy, 8-3
Saturday, Apr. 29 (Match played at Ojai Valley Athletic Club)
Ruthwick d. #3 Watanabe (GFU), 7-5, 3-6, 10-8 (Consolation Quarterfinals), Ly (UR) d. Ruthwick, 6-3, 7-5
Brown/Kibira (Oxy) d. Li/Nguyen, wd.
Pathireddy/Pathireddy d. #2 Wight/Wininger (Pacific), wd.; Namba/Watanabe (GFU) d. Pathireddy/Pathireddy, 8-6