Sagehens Advance With Hard-Fought Win Over UT Tyler

Sagehens Advance With Hard-Fought Win Over UT Tyler

Claremont, Calif. - The No. 6 Pomona-Pitzer Men's Tennis team was pushed in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Division III Tournament, but came away with a 5-3 win over Texas-Tyler to advance to the regional finals at CMS for the second straight year. 

Sophomore Antony Bello won in both singles and doubles and senior Connor Hudson came through with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win at No. 1 singles for the clincher to send Pomona-Pitzer (26-6) through to tomorrow's finals. The No. 6 Sagehens will face No. 1 CMS for the fourth time this season after the Stags breezed past UC Santa Cruz 5-0 to improve to 28-2. 

Pomona-Pitzer had chances to put the match away much earlier, as UT Tyler was able to salvage the final doubles point with a 9-8 win at No. 1 (11-9 in the tiebreaker). Bello and sophomore Spencer Simonides earned an 8-4 win at No. 3, and junior Jonathan Kim and sophomore Graham Maassen picked up an 8-4 win at No. 2 to give the Sagehens a 2-0 lead.

The match at No. 1 saw both teams hold down the stretch to get to a tiebreaker, and Pomona-Pitzer stormed out to a 4-1 lead. The Patriots, though, came back with five in a row for a 6-4 lead and two match points before the Sagehens fought them off to get to 6-6. Pomona-Pitzer had two match points for a 3-0 lead both erased by service winners, before the Patriots prevailed 11-9 when the Sagehen team of Hudson and freshman Kalyan Chadalavada had a shot miss long.

Freshman Sam Malech (pictured) earned a quick 6-1, 6-3 at No. 5 singles and Bello (6-4, 6-2) followed with a quick one at No. 4 singles, which would have given Pomona-Pitzer a quick clinch had it earned a doubles sweep. However, UT Tyler was able to match those wins with a 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 3 (Harry Kelleher) and a 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 6 (Jack Puckey). Hudson and Kim won their first sets at No. 1 and No. 2, but had to go to a third when the Patriots earned splits.

Hudson and Daniel Budd had a battle at No. 1 with several momentum swings as Hudson led 3-0 in the second set before Budd rattled off six in a row for a 6-3 second set win.  Hudson then led 4-1 in the third set before Budd broke back and pulled to within 4-3, and then battled back from 0-40 on his serve to get it to deuce. On the fifth break point, though, Hudson was able to come through with a forehand in the corner that Budd was unable to get back over the net to push the lead to 5-3. 

Hudson quickly jumped out 40-0 on his serve, and overhit the first match point on a volley at the net for 40-15. However, on the second one, he came in behind his serve and put a volley away for the match to send Pomona-Pitzer through to the next round. Kim and Chris Wootton were on serve in the third set at No. 2 with Wootton up 3-2, but the match was left unfinished by NCAA rules. 

Pomona-Pitzer will try to pull off a big upset against No. 1 CMS tomorrow, which has won 95 straight SCIAC matches and has finished as runner-up the last two years in the NCAA Tournament. The Sagehens played a tight regular season match with the Stags (6-3 at Pauley Courts) and fell 7-2 in the SCIAC finals.