Photo by Noelle Davis
PASADENA, Calif. (Apr. 21, 2018) – Sophomore Miha Valencic (Colleyville, Texas / Grapevine) recorded a decisive victory at fifth singles as No. 34 Caltech men's tennis played No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges as tightly as any SCIAC team this spring in the regular season finale.
The Beavers (11-6 overall) finish the SCIAC schedule with a 5-2 record and have earned the third seed in the SCIAC Tournament. They will face No. 11 Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (15-8, 6-1) in Claremont on Friday, May 4. Caltech narrowly fell, 5-4, to the Sagehens in the first match of the spring back on Feb. 10.
Valencic did not drop a single game in his first set en route to a 6-0, 6-4 victory as the Beavers attempted to stage a rally following a doubles sweep by the Stags. Caltech built up some momentum with early leads on four courts and all six Beavers won no fewer than six games in each of their matches, but CMS lived up to its perennial national title-contender billing to come through in the clutch, winning three tiebreakers and a super tiebreak.
For the second straight match, all three of Caltech's impressive rookies started in the top three singles spots. Boasting a combined 37 wins this season, the trio joined Valencic in going up a break on each of their opponents within the first few games. Only James Wei (Chappaqua, N.Y. / Horace Greeley) would hold on to claim a first set, however, as Varun Shanker (Midland, Mich. / Midland Dow) went down in a tiebreaker to last year's national runner-up in singles, Niko Parodi, while Kevin Yu (Mason, Ohio / Cincinnati Country Day) succumbed in the final game, 7-5, to a rare regionally ranked player at third singles. Meanwhile, junior Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) stayed on serve at fourth singles all the way to a tiebreak defeat as well, with classmate Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) going down by just two games at court six. Ultimately, Wei came up short in a tight second set, while Shanker played to another tiebreaker, but unfortunately with the same result.
Head Coach Mandy Gamble and the Beavers head to the individual Ojai Valley Tournament this weekend before preparing for the SCIAC Tournament next Friday.