Photo: Michael Wong
PASADENA (Mar. 5, 2018) – Caltech freshman went a perfect 3-0 in singles action to boost the men's tennis team to victory against visiting No. 30 Christopher Newport University on Monday evening. The triumph marks the men's team's first win of the season over a nationally ranked team.
Freshman James Wei (Chappaqua, N.Y. / Horace Greeley) won his second singles match in as many days while Varun Shanker (Midland, Mich. / Midland Dow) got back into the win column at first singles. Both players earned hard fought three-set victories, though each player took a different path to the finish line. Shanker staked himself to a 3-0 lead in the first set against the 36th-ranked player in Division III but went on to drop the first set before roaring back to steal a 7-5 second set. With the support of his teammates, Shanker started to believe and in the third set took down the Captains' top player, 6-3 to clinch the match for the Beavers. Wei, meanwhile won the first set against his opponent at second singles, 6-4, but found himself on the other side of 6-4 in the second set. The freshman made some third set adjustments, however and took a 6-2 win in the final set to tack the exclamation point onto his team's big day. Wei's 5-1 overall singles record is the best among all Beavers through the team's first six matches in 2018.
Caltech's third freshman, Kevin Yu (Mason, Ohio / Cincinnati Country Day), bageled his opponent at sixth singles and got off the court faster than any other match. Another win for fourth singles player sophomore Miha Valencic (Colleyville, Texas / Grapevine) (6-4, 6-3) gave the Beavers a little more peace of mind heading into the dramatic finish to Monday's non-conference match.
A 2-1 advantage created in doubles action set the tone for the day to come. Fresh off of a ranked victory just yesterday, the freshman duo of Wei and Shanker claimed another victory over a ranked team's top doubles pairing when they picked up a 8-4 victory over the individuals they would later defeat individually. Caltech's regular second doubles pairing, juniors Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) and Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) also picked up a key point, holding off their opponents, 8-6. The Beavers came just two points away from a third doubles point when the duo of Yu and sophomore Connor Soohoo (Redwood Shores, Calif. / Crystal Springs) fell, 7-5 in a tiebreaker to decide their eight-game pro set.
Head Coach Mandy Gamble and the Beavers will head to Indian Wells for their next match, where they will meet Vassar College on Sunday, Mar. 11.