OJAI, Calif. (Apr. 20, 2016) – An unprecedented 10 Caltech men's and women's tennis players are set to participate in the 116th Annual Ojai Valley Tournament beginning Thursday, Apr. 21.
A program-record 12 Beavers made the field, and even with the withdrawal of two women's players, Caltech will field seven singles competitors and four doubles pairings between the Division III and Independent College Events.
Freshman Kana Moriyama (Redmond, Wash. / Redmond) and sophomore Erin Wang (Auburn, Calif. / Del Oro) will represent the women's team in a thin singles bracket. With just over 32 entrants in the field, Moriyama has been awarded an automatic bye into the Round of 32, where she will immediately be pitted against West Region No. 11 and #6 seed Mary Zhao (Pomona-Pitzer Colleges), who reached the semifinals of the Fall USTA/ITA West Regional as the #5 seed. Wang has a far more reasonable initial matchup in the Round of 64 against Hope College's Chelsea Bollinger, who is unranked in the NAIA West Region. A matchup with #2 seed Tatum Prudhomme from Division I Grand Canyon University looms in the next round, however. Both will be looking to match junior Sophia Chen (Newport Beach, Calif. / Corona Del Mar), who won a close three-setter in last year's Round of 64.
The duo's doubles matchup is especially intriguing as the Beavers are set to square off against Christie Kurdys and Annette Sousa, the regular #3 pairing for Cal Lutheran University that beat Caltech's #3 team, 8-5, back on Feb. 12. Should the Beavers prevail in that tough matchup, they will go up against the #2 seed, which again includes Prudhomme and Susie Baklini of Grand Canyon.
Already having made history on several fronts this season, the men's team will be looking to add yet another achievement to the list. The only men's player to win a single match in the tournament, assistant coach Devashish Joshi (he won once in both singles and doubles in 2012), will be on site to help their cause, but their work certainly is cut out for them.
Senior Rushikesh Joshi (Sunnyvale, Calif. / Archbishop Mitty) drew Pomona-Pitzer's Spencer Simonides, who has teamed with Graham Maassen to form the West Region's No. 2 doubles pairing but is unranked as a singles player, and would face West No. 9 and #6 seed Joey Dulle, the University of Redlands #2 singles player, in the next round should he advance.
Junior Ruthwick Pathireddy (Cerritos, Calif. / Whitney) also pulled an unranked but dangerous opponent in Patrick Wildman, a CMS sophomore who has gone 4-0 in Division III competition this spring and reached the semifinals of the Fall ITA Regional, where he fell to teammate and eventual runner-up Glenn Hull. West No. 6 and #4 seed Chase Lipscomb (Redlands) awaits the winner in the Round of 32. Freshman Derik Nguyen (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) faces a similar proposition in CMS freshman Julian Gordy, a Top-100 recruit who is also undefeated in limited action this spring and took Hull to three sets in the quarterfinals of the Fall ITA. The winner faces West No. 21 and #13 seed Gio Valdez (Cal Lutheran) in the next round.
Attention will surely be focused on the late-morning matchup between freshman Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) and Derek Levchenko, who is 7-3 between courts #5 and #6 for UCSC this spring but also impressed at the Fall ITA, having reached the Round of 16. The winner will be rewarded with a match against West No. 3 and #2 seed Maassen, who has recently risen to the top spot in the No. 10 Sagehens' lineup.
With limited entries available to the tournament, freshman Andre Liu (Novi, Mich. / Novi) will also compete in the Independent College bracket, where he opens with a Round of 32 matchup vs. NAIA West No. 3 and #8 seed Phillip Westwood of Biola University. The Eagles #1 singles player, Westwood posted a 6-2, 6-1 victory against the Beavers at the top court back on Feb. 27.
In doubles on Friday afternoon, Ruthwick and Nguyen open against Redlands' Sawyer Patterson and Thomas Suchodolski, who have gone just 2-4 at #3 doubles this spring while the Caltech duo scored an historic victory over the Bulldogs' #2 team just last Saturday. A victory means a quick turnaround to face the imposing Pomona-Pitzer West No. 6 and #5 seed team of Jonathan Kim and Jake Yasgoor, who have lost just twice this spring to a pair of Top-10 Division III foes.
Another Sagehens duo is already guaranteed to stand in the Beavers' way as Joshi and junior Ramsathwick Pathireddy (Irvine, Calif. / Whitney) have been matched up against freshman twins Joshua and Samuel Gearou, who have only appeared together sparingly this year but entered college as four- and three-star recruits, respectively. Redlands' top pairing, West No. 3 and #3 seed Joey Dulle and Jake Ly await the victors with the benefit of a bye.
Junior Morgan Lebby (Laguna Beach, Calif. / Laguna Beach) and Li will also represent Caltech in the Independent College draw. Their initial opponents are Biola's Westwood and Joe Turnquist, who are ranked No. 9 in the NAIA West Region but fell to the Pathireddy twins earlier this season, 9-8 (6). The winner will face the winner of #3 seed Hope and Whittier College's Sean Jardinico/David Stanko.
Wang d. Bollinger (6-0, 6-0), L Prudhomme (6-0, 6-0)
Moriyama L #6 Zhou (6-0, 6-1)
Moriyama/Wang d. Kurdys/Sousa (6-0, 7-6 )
Nguyen L Gordy (6-0, 6-3)
Joshi L Simonides (6-4, 6-4)
Sathwick L Adams (6-1, 6-3)
Ruthwick L Wildman (6-4, 6-0)
Liu L #6 Westwood (6-0, 6-3)
Li L Levchenko – (5-7, 7-5, 7-5)
Lebby/Li L Turnquist/Westwood (4-6, 6-2, 10-7)
Nguyen/Ruthwick d. Patterson/Suchodolski (Withdrawn), L #5 Kim/Yasgoor (8-6)
Joshi/Sathwick L Gearou/Gearou (8-3)