CLAREMONT—The Occidental College men's tennis team headed to the Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Saturday afternoon for their first match of a weekend triple-header, but despite playing some of their best tennis of the year the Tigers came up short against the No. 12 team in the country 7-2.
The No. 30 Tigers (4-2, 0-1 SCIAC) did not make it an easy afternoon for the Sagehens (2-4, 1-1 SCIAC), pushing the talented host team in every match.
"We played our best tennis of the year," Occidental College men's tennis coach Brian Newhall said. "Pomona-Pitzer is a well-coached, elite Division III tennis program and our guys competed at a very high level."
Playing No. 3 doubles, Ben Herrington-Gilmore (Stillwater, MN) and Jamie Grossman (Tiburon) gave an excellent effort against their Pomona counterparts, Chris Wiechert and Connor Sutton, but fell to an identical 9-8 score.
Though down 0-3 after doubles play, Coach Newhall was pleased with his team's performance.
"I could not be happier with the way we battled and scrapped," said Newhall. "Pomona-Pitzer is a very good team. We played them very well."
The tight battles continued into singles play as No. 3 through No. 5 singles matches all went to tie-breakers.
In the No. 3 match Jordan Brown (San Diego) bounced back from a 7-5 first set loss with a 6-2 second set victory against Sabel, the No. 20 singles player in the West Region. Brown was not able to hold Sabel off though, losing the third set 10-1, and consequently the match.
Perkins picked up the first victory of the afternoon for the Tigers in the No. 4 match by defeating Allinson 7-6, 5-7, 10-6.
Choy followed his double partner's performance up with a 5-7, 6-4, 10-6 come-from-behind victory of his own.
"Perkins and Choy came up with two big wins, but our entire team came to compete," Newhall said. "We were able to get all thirteen of the guys on our roster a singles or doubles match. Pomona-Pitzer and Coach Belletto were incredible hosts. It was a great day of tennis.
"Our guys rose to the occasion on Saturday. I could not have been more proud of our performance."
Oxy had no time to rest after Saturday's match as Swarthmore and St. John's (MN) came to Scholl Canyon on Sunday, giving the Tigers another opportunity to prove their merit against a top out of state program.
The Swarthmore (2-0) match tipped off at 1:00 p.m. and resulted in another close fight for the Tigers, culminating in a 5-4 Swarthmore victory.
No. 1 doubles pair Brown and Shapiro pulled out a 9-7 victory, followed up by a 8-6 win by the No. 3 team of Herrington-Gilmore and Grossman to put Occidental ahead 2-1 after doubles play.
In the singles competition Oxy was led by Shapiro in the No. 2 slot and Perkins in the No. 4, who both picked up 6-3, 7-5 victories.
Brown and Choy took their respective matches to extra sets, but neither was able to rally for a victory in the final frame, leaving Oxy one match behind Swarthmore in the final score.
Occidental bounced back in their 6:00 p.m. matchup against St. John's (2-8) with a dominating 7-2 victory over the Johnnies.
The Tigers only surrendered the No. 1 match in singles and doubles in the evening contest.
In doubles Herrington-Gilmore and Grossman won 8-5 and the pair of Siebs and Cotton won 8-3.
Shapiro led off singles with a 6-4, 6-2 victory in the No. 2 spot. Brown won 6-3, 6-0, Perkins won 6-1, 6-1, and No. 5 Choy and No. 6 Herrington-Gilmore defeated their Johnnies competition with 6-0, 6-1 victories.
"It was an excellent weekend for the whole group. We were ready to compete," Newhall said. "It was a great opportunity for our program and we rose to the challenge."