PORTLAND, Ore. (Feb. 19, 2018) – The Caltech men's tennis team embarked on a three-match road stint in the pacific northwest over the weekend and received positive results in every match.
Saturday: Lewis & Clark 8, Caltech 1
Freshman Varun Shanker (Midland, Mich. / Midland Dow) earned Caltech's lone point of the day with a decisive victory at first singles. Shanker defeated the top singles player at host Lewis & Clark Colleges, 6-3, 7-6, and became the second singles player to finish his match. Three of the other singles matches between the Beavers and Pioneers went to three sets, including one involving Shanker's doubles partner, freshman James Wei (Chappaqua, N.Y. / Horace Greeley) at fourth singles. Wei came just two points from winning the first set in a marathon tiebreaker (11-9) but came out and won the second set decisively, 6-2, before coming up short in the third set. Junior Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) and freshman Kevin Yu (Mason, Ohio / Cincinnati Country Day) also pushed their opponents to three sets, with Yu responding with a dominant 6-1 second set at sixth singles. The third set took a grand total of 18 games to decide a winner, which speaks to freshman's resiliency in that spot (10-8).
The freshman duo of Shanker and Wei took on the 23rd-ranked double pairing in the nation in the first slot and responded by taking four games from the home team. Additionally, Yu combined with sophomore Miha Valencic (Colleyville, Texas / Grapevine) to win six games at third doubles.
Sunday: Caltech 8, Linfield 1
Caltech had a much better go of it when the men's team took on Linfield College on Sunday afternoon and earned its first win of 2018.
The Beavers got things started with three doubles wins to set the tone for the day to follow. Varun Shanker and James Wei won 8-2 at first doubles, then new pairing of Kevin Yu and sophomore Connor Soohoo (Redwood Shores, Calif. / Crystal Springs) picked up an 8-4 win at third doubles. The toughest doubles point came in the second slot, where Derik Nguyen and junior Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) pulled out a hard fought 8-6 victory over the Widcats.
A slew of routine victories in singles play allowed the Beavers to seal the deal early in the day. Wei earned a dominant 6-1, 6-0 win at fourth singles to give his team a four-point advantage before Li's 6-0, 6-3 victory at third singles clinched the match for the Beavers. Shanker had to worker harder to earn another win at first singles but did so following a 12-10 win in the tiebreaker to decide the second set (6-2, 7-6).
Monday: George Fox 5, Caltech 4
The young Beavers faced their greatest amount of adversity against George Fox University on Monday.
The duo of Derik Nguyen and Zixiao Li earned another victory, this time over the Bruins' second doubles team (8-5). The point proved crucial to affording the Beavers a chance at a win in singles play. Caltech swept George Fox in the lower three singles pairings, with the toughest point coming when Miha Valencic won in three sets following a second set tiebreaker (6-4, 6-7, 6-2). Freshmen James Wei and Kevin Yu, meanwhile won in straight sets at fourth and sixth singles respectively. Looking for his third win of the weekend, first singles player Varun Shanker took his opponent, the 16th-ranked player in the nation to extra games in the second but ultimately fell just short of what would have been the decisive point for the Beavers.
Head Coach Mandy Gamble and the Beavers will return home on Sunday, Mar. 4 to host Mary Washington University at 10 a.m.