MOBILE, Ala. - College of Santa Fe's (N.M.) Dima Chiriacov's return into the net sent Azusa Pacific University (Calif.) into a wild celebration, as the Cougars captured the school's first men's tennis national championship following a 6-4, 6-2 victory by Gordon Hong.
Following double's play, the Cougars used victories by Sam Fletcher at #1, Boris Bakalov at #2 and Hong at #5 to capture the title.
Bakalov was the first match off the court, as he defeated Daniel Scholten of Santa Fe 6-1 and 6-3. He was followed by two victories by Santa Fe which tied the match at 3-3. Ivan Angulo defeated David Goodman of Azusa Pacific 7-5, 6-1 at #3, while his teammate Ricardo Omana dispatched of Adam Davidson 6-3, 6-2.
Needing a victory to regain the lead, the Cougars turned to Fletcher. Fletcher, the winner of the Ward-Ballinger Award, defeated Andre Begemann 6-4, 6-4 to give the Cougars the lead at 4-3.
The match then turned to #3 and #5 where Hong and teammate Tom Jelsma were looking to give the Cougars their first titles. Jelsma split sets with Anibal Aranda and was leading 5-3 in the final set, while Hong won the first set over Chiriacov and was looking to end the match on serve.
Jelsma and Aranda were tied 30-all, when Hong's service was returned by Chiriacov into the net giving the Cougars the victory.
Azusa Pacific jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage following the #1 doubles match as Sam Fletcher and Adam Davidson mounted an early break in the sixth game and held serve the rest of the match to defeat Ricardo Omana and Ivan Angula 8-5.
The Cougars then got a lift from their #3 doubles team of Gordon Hong and David Goodman. After falling behind 2-0 in the early going to Santa Fe's Dima Chiriacov and Anibal Aranda, before storming back to win the next three games to go up 3-2. The teams held serve the rest of the way as the Cougars defeated Santa Fe 8-6 to take a 2-0 overall lead.
Santa Fe got a lift from their #2 doubles team of Daniel Scholten and Andre Begemann to cut the overall lead of Azusa Pacific to 2-1. The Spin and Azusa Pacific were tied 4-4, when Begemann held serve to take a 5-4 advantage. Santa Fe went on to break Azusa Pacific before holding serve again to take a 7-4 advantage. After the Azusa Pacific team of Boris Bakalov and Tom Jelsma held serve, the Spin held serve to win the match and send the overall match to singles.
Azusa Pacific was playing in its third consecutive championship match, while Santa Fe was making its first appearance in the title match.
Match 1- Berry (Ga.) def. Alliant International (Calif.), 5-4
Match 2 - Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) def. Spring Hill (Ala.), 8-1
Match 3 - Shorter (Ga.) def. Walsh (Ohio), 9-0
Match 4 - Benedictine (Kan.) def. Lewis-Clark (Idaho), 7-2
Match 5 - Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) def. Aquinas (Mich.), 6-3
Match 6 -Lindenwood (Mo.) def. Lee (Tenn.), 5-4
Match 7 - Flagler (Fla.) def. Bethany (Kansas), 9-0
Match 8 - Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) def. Webber International (Fla.), 5-4
Match 9 - (1) Santa Fe (N.M.) def. Berry, 5-1
Match 10 - Lindsey Wilson def. (8) Northwood, 5-2
Match 11 - (5) Vanguard (Calif.) def. Shorter, 5-1
Match 12 - (4) Embry-Riddle (Fla.) def. Benedictine, 5-0
Match 13 - (3) Auburn Montgomery def. Point Loma, 5-0
Match 14 - (6) Freed-Hardeman def. Lindenwood, 5-0
Match 15 - (7) Virginia Intermont def. Flagler, 5-1
Match 16 - (2) Azusa Pacific def. Olivet Nazarene, 5-0
Match 17 - Santa Fe def. Lindsey Wilson , 5-0 (quarterfinals)
Match 18 - Embry-Riddle (Fla.) def. Vanguard, 5-0 (quarterfinals)
Match 19 - Auburn Montgomery def. Freed- Hardeman (Tenn.), 5-0 (quarterfinals)
Match 20 - Azusa Pacific def. Virginia Intermont, 5-1 (quarterfinals)
Match 21 - Santa Fe def. Embry-Riddle (Fla.) 5-4 (semifinals)
Match 22 - Azusa Pacific def. Auburn Montgomery, 5-2 (semifinals)
Match 23 - Azusa Pacific def. Santa Fe, 5-3 (championship)
Ward-Ballinger Outstanding Player - Sam Fletcher, Azusa Pacific (Calif.)
National Coach of the Year - Mark Bohren, Azusa Pacific (Calif.)