WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men’s Tennis team put together one of the program’s biggest upsets in program history Saturday at the Richard Ettinger Tennis Courts edging No. 31 UC Santa Cruz 5-4.
It was the first time in program history the Poets have beaten the Banana Slugs with three of the last four match-ups being a 5-4 decision in favor of UCSC.
Whittier fell behind early after doubles 2-1. At No. 1 Thomas Koszowski (Denver, CO) and Maxwell Koszowski (Denver, CO) saw themselves trailing 7-2 but managed to fight their way back to an 8-5 loss. At No. 2, Pim Van Der Veer (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and Thomas Davies (Wales) raced to a 5-2 lead but had a hiccup midway through before grabbing the 8-4 win. At No. 3, Jesse Eccles (Queenstown, New Zealand) and Chris Palacio (El Centro, Calif.) were off their game. They stayed on serve early but couldn’t overcome a late break falling 8-6 allowing UCSC to grab a 2-1 advantage.
In singles, Whittier fought their way back in impressive fashion winning four of six matches. The Purple & Gold picked up two quick points from Eccles who came up huge at No. 6 bouncing back after his doubles loss to win in straights 6-4, 6-2. Matt Yanuck (Studio City, Calif.) also had a solid match at No. 4 winning 6-3, 6-2 over David Jackson, giving WC a 3-2 lead. UCSC got their first singles point at the top spot with Chad LeDuff picking up a break in each set against Van Der Veer leveling the match at 3-3.
The Banana Slugs then regained the lead at No. 3 as Davies would fall 7-5, 7-5 to Kris Harris. But after that it was all Poets winning the final two matches to secure the upset win. T. Koszowski pulled Whittier even with his biggest win of his career taking out Ryan Dugan at No. 2 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. But this wasn’t the match of the day as the victory would come on the shoulders of Derek Okuhama (Tumon, Guam) at No. 5. He edged Ryan Gee 6-4 in the first set before being edged 7-5 in the second. But somehow in the third, Okuhama fought through cramping and fatigue to win a lopsided 6-1 frame.
Whittier (1-1) returns to the court this Saturday, February 23 when they travel to take on Biola University beginning at 12:00pm.