LOS ANGELES—The win streak stretched to four matches for the No. 30 Occidental College men's tennis team as they played in their sixth match in five days against Haverford College, a 6-3 victory, on Thursday afternoon.
The stretch of matches started on Saturday March 3 at No. 12 Pomona-Pitzer and will end tomorrow afternoon versus Christopher Newport, but bookending the past week for the Tigers (7-3) does no justice to the intensity of the competition they have faced without as much as a day off.
Haverford (1-2), just like five of the other six teams played in this stretch, was a strong, out-of-state competitor.
"This was an intense week both academically and on the courts with seven matches in six days," said Occidental men's tennis coach Brian Newhall. "Our captain Ben Herrington-Gilmore was instrumental in keeping the group focused and ready to play. "
On Thursday the Tigers rose to the occasion behind their lone senior and captain to extend their longest winning streak of the 2012 season.
The Fords stole the No. 1 doubles slot to begin the match, but Oxy bounced back to win No. 2 behind Stephen Perkins (Seattle) and Spencer Choy (Aiea, HI) and No. 3 doubles featuring Herrington-Gilmore (Stillwater, MN) and Jamie Grossman (Tiburon).
From there, the afternoon was all Occidental.
Jeremy Shapiro (Scottsdale, AZ) won the No. 2 match 6-0, 6-4. Perkins and Choy continued their success from doubles with 6-1, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-4 victories, respectively.
Grossman, playing in only his second singles match of the season, picked up the win in the No. 6 slot with a 6-1, 6-2 decision.
"I love this team," said Newhall. "They come to compete every match. They support each other. We are a true 'team' in every sense of the word."
To pull off a week with seven matches in six days, all against high quality opponents, takes a certain level of mental and physical conditioning. The Tigers know their coaches prepared them for the challenge.
"Our great fitness and athleticism paid off against Haverford in the 6-3 win," said Perkins. "We have been working hard in our conditioning sessions, which we call Tiger Time, and when the lights are on and our matches get close, we know what time it is. It's Tiger Time.
"We played seven matches in six days and left it all out on the court."
In the final match of their weeklong, seven match marathon, the Occidental College men's tennis team fell to Christopher Newport University 6-3 on Friday.
The Captains took the top two doubles matches from Occidental before Siebs and David Cotton (Anchorage, AK) pulled out the 8-3 victory in the No. 3 match.
The first three singles matches went to CNU, but Perkins and Choy once again stepped in and picked up victories in the No. 4 and No. 5 slots. Perkins in undefeated in singles play on the season; Choy has only one singles loss.
"I could not be more proud of the way our team competed against Haverford and Christopher Newport," said Newhall. "We showed a ton of heart, desire, and passion in both matches."
Five of the six singles matches went to three sets and at no point did a Tiger get shut out in a set.
"This week was a mental and physical test and our team proved itself as prominent competitors as we beat many strong teams and lost some close ones to high caliber programs," said Choy. "Overall, our 7-3 record to start the season is incredible and reflects our hard work on and off the courts, in addition to our attitude and belief in this team and our coach."
Oxy has a two-week break from competition, but will return at the end of the month to face three non-conference opponents before heading into the thick of SCIAC play against a group headlined by No. 20 Cal Lutheran, No. 15 Redlands, and No. 4 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
"Individually and collectively we have all made major improvements," said Coach Newhall. "I am very happy about our progress, but far from satisfied. Our guys want to be pushed. Our coaching staff can't wait to get back on the courts after spring break."