A 4-1 victory against the Eagles continues a brilliant 2021 campaign for the Cougars as they advance their record to 11-3.

Azusa Pacific’s men’s tennis squad had a nearly perfect month. After a 6-1 victory against Concordia Irvine on March 13, the Cougars entered a five-match home stretch at the Munson & Bavougian Tennis Complex.

Throughout that stretch, the Cougars went a perfect 5-0 and carried a favorable set differential of 26-3. These efforts represent the completeness of this year’s team. From the No. 1 spot of Jakob Schnaitter to the No. 6 spot of Cole Rassner, the team has seen levels of brilliance from all players on the everyday roster.

However, none have been as impressive as Ryan Nuno. Named the PacWest Men’s Tennis Player of the Week last Monday, Nuno went a perfect 6-0 in both singles and doubles over the course of three matches against Metro State, Cal Lutheran and Biola. Although that stretch ended for Nuno on Tuesday, as he dropped his two played sets against his individual opponent, the recent prominence of the Cougars as a whole continued.

The No. 8 ranked Cougars traveled to La Mirada, Calif. for the first time this season, as they played the second half of their back-to-back matchups against Biola. The 4-1 victory on Tuesday earned the Cougars the season sweep against their longtime rivals, pushing their regular season record to 11-3.

The initial result of the game did not favor APU. The team of Erik Martinez and Sebastian Herrera for Biola took the first match of the contest, as they defeated the duo of Dylan Parsely and Ethan Smith 6-2 at the No. 2 spot.

In order for the Cougars to secure the doubles point, the No. 1 and 3 spots needed to sweep the rest of the doubles competition. That hope started off strong as Nuno and his partner, Cole Rassner, won the No. 3 spot with a 6-4 finish. The No. 1 matchup was the deciding factor. The team of Schnaitter and Leyton Bohren played a remarkable set where they won 7-6 (6-5) in a hard-fought tie-breaker.

Next came the singles portion of the match which started off fast for the Cougars as they took the 2-0 early advantage after Sam Sippel won in the No. 2 spot by defeating Herrera 6-1, 6-0. The victory gave the sophomore, who was named the ITA National Rookie of the Year in last year’s shortened campaign, his twelfth victory of 13 matches played so far in 2021

APU made it a 3-0 differential after freshman Caden Samkutty won his third match of his season in the No. 6 spot by a score of 6-2, 6-2. The Cougars were just one point away from earning their third straight sweep, which ended up being spoiled after the drop in the No. 3 match. Nevertheless, Schnaitter clinched the game for APU as he won the No. 1 spot against Biola’s Alexi Prokopchuk with a 6-0, 6-4 finish. 

Prokopchuk, who is entering his third season with the Eagles, has already had a well-established collegiate career. In 2020 he received local recognition when he was named the school’s Athletics Male Newcomer of the Year, along with regional acknowledgment after being ranked the No. 6 singles player in the West Region. But Schnaitter proved to be too much for Biola’s ace, as the Cougars’ captain continued to take the West Regional tennis world by storm.

Last season was the German-born’s best start to a season with the program despite the shortened campaign. Ranked as the best player in the West Region, along with a thirteenth ranking nationally, Schnaitter went 5-0 in singles matches at the No. 1 spot. So far in 2021, the team has continued to marvel at his winning ways. In 12 singles matches played this year only one went unfinished, with Schnaitter winning the remaining 11. His accumulative record in both singles and doubles matchups this season is 22-2 — a team-high.

The 4-1 finish against Biola was the seventh consecutive victory for the Cougars, as APU’s program continued its historic unbeaten streak against the Eagles that has lasted over the span of 13 seasons. 

With only four games left in the regular season, the Cougars hold a strong favor in the PacWest standings as they are in pure control of the No. 1 spot. Their next contest will be a return home on Friday against Concordia Irvine, who they defeated 6-1 earlier in the season. It will be a quick turnaround for the team, as immediately after that contest they will need to travel to San Diego the following day to take on Point Loma, who is on a two-game losing streak themselves.