VENTURA, Calif. (Apr. 26, 2019) – The Caltech men's tennis team came up big in its first day at he 119th Ojai Valley Tournament, scoring a slew of wins and even a key upset.
Each of the Beavers' three singles competitors made it out of the first round. Sophomore Varun Shanker (Midland, Mich. / Midland Dow), the top-seeded player of the tournament handled Yaroslav Yanin of University of California Santa Cruz, 6-0, 6-1, and classmate James Wei (Chappaqua, N.Y. / Horace Greeley) picked up a first round win in similar fashion over Dean Dulthummon of Southwestern University (6-2, 7-6).
The biggest win of the day for Caltech came when junior Miha Valencic (Colleyville, Texas / Grapevine) outlasted a familiar foe in seventh-seeded Josh Gearou from Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. Valencia won the first set 6-4, and after dropping the second set hung with Gearou , the 17th-ranked player in Division III, throughout the third, eventually forcing a tiebreaker before pulling away 7-1 to seal what might be the biggest win of his career. Valencia was not done, however, and followed up with a straight-sets win against Nathan Saragoza of Linfield College (7-5, 6-4). Shanker joined Valencic in the quarterfinals after fending off a stiff test from Occidental College's David Zhang (4-6, 6-0, 6-2). Wei, however drew a tough second-round draw in second-seeded Jed Kronenberg of Pomona-Pitzer and took the first set tiebreaker before the higher-seeded player came back to earn the win.
Meanwhile, both of Caltech's doubles teams were unable to survive the first day of action. Shanker and Wei entered the tournament seeded third, but ultimately fell, 8-7, to the top team at Whittier College. Likewise, seniors Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) and Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) reunited as the Beavers' second doubles team but came up short, 8-3, to the fourth-seeded team from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges. However both teams are now ticketed for the consolation bracket, where Shanker and Wei will face Gee and Harris from UC Santa Cruz at 2 p.m. on Saturday while Nguyen and Li take on Derrick and Zhang of Occidental College at 10:30 a.m.