LOS ANGELES — Senior captain Jordan Brown (San Diego) picked up two wins — one at No. 3 singles and the other at No. 1 doubles — but the Occidental College men's tennis team lost an epic 4 hour, 45-minute battle with Brandeis 5-4 in its season opener on Monday.
Brown defeated Dave Yovanoff 6-1, 6-1 and teamed up with sophomore NCAA Division I transfer Josh Dancu (Naple, Fla.) to beat Steven Milo and Josh Jordan 8-5.
Then Kevin Siebs (Houston, Tex.) added another win at No. 4 singles, beating Michael Secular 6-4, 6-4, and giving Oxy a 4-2 lead with three singles matches still in progress.
Then the drama started.
Kevin Zhao (Sammarish, Wash.), Oxy's No. 10 player who earned the right to play at No. 6 singles with a pair of challenge-match wins over the weekend, nearly pulled off an upset in a back-and-forth match with Alec Siegel, before losing 7-6, 5-7, 7-6.
"I have never seen Kevin play better tennis than he played against Brandeis," Occidental coach Brian Newhall said. "His hard work and commitment are just starting to pay off."
Despite his effort though, the Judges cut the lead to 4-3.
Still in action on top court, Dancu was engaged in a nail-biter with Steven Milo, Brandeis' No. 1 player. He stormed out to a 6-0 first-set victory.
Milo, a senior veteran, fought back for a 6-4 win in the second set and edged Dancu 7-6 in the third-set to win the match and tie the score at four with one match still to be determined.
Nearly 5 hours after the match started, senior co-captain Stephen Perkins (Seattle, Wash.) was grinding it out with Jordan.
"You could not imagine having two more evenly-matched opponents," Newhall said. "Both senior captains, both in incredible shape and both extremely competitive."
Jordan pulled out the final set 6-4, sealing the victory for the Judges in an exciting opening to the 2013 Oxy men's tennis season.
"In my 25 years of Oxy athletic events, I've rarely been involved in a more exciting and memorable competition," Newhall said. "Even though we lost the match 5-4, everyone played their hearts out and we give Brandeis all the credit for stepping up in crunch time.
Next up for the Tigers is Mary Washington at Scholl Canyon on March 3 at 5 p.m.
"As a program this season it's all about taking the next step," Newhall said. "We'll get back to work on the practice courts and with our elite level of Tiger Time conditioning workouts to prepare for Mary Washington."