Pacific men's tennis (5-15, 2-5 WCC [8th]) entered the weekend needing a win, and got a big one, 4-3, over a strong Gonzaga squad (14-7, 5-2 [3rd]) on Friday at the Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center.
In a day in which the Tigers not only had to battle a strong Gonzaga team but also high winds that affected play, Pacific overcame both with an inspired performance over the Bulldogs. Freshman Josef Southcombe clinched the match with a third-set tiebreaker victory on court five. He, and his teammates that mobbed him after his victory, snapped a four-match skid for the Tigers. Gonzaga won five of its last six matches entering Friday.
Once the match did get going after an hour wind delay, Pacific came out of the gate strong and packed a big punch with its first of the day in doubles. Juniors Akram El Sallaly and Tadiwa Chinamo defeated Sam Feit and Ruadhan O'Sullivan, the 82nd ranked duo in the nation, 6-2. Gonzaga pulled a match back on court three, but junior Ross Watson and freshman Philip Hjorth took a tiebreaker win on court two, 7-6 (7-2) over Hunter Egger and Kyle Everly. The win put the Tigers up 1-0 and gave them a lead they wouldn't give up.
El Sallaly and Chinamo's win over Feit and O'Sullivan was their second over a ranked team this season. They defeated BYU's Sean Hill and Jeffrey Hsu, who were 37th in the nation at the time.
In singles, Chinamo kept it rolling with a quick win on court three, 6-0, 6-4 over Everly to make it 2-0. The win was his 10th of the season.
Gonzaga pulled a match back on court four but moments later on court six, junior Nathan Hampton won in a second-set tiebreak 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) over Egger in a hard-fought match to make it 3-1. Gonzaga got another point on court one where Watson took Feit to a third set but came up short.
On court five, Southcombe and Emilio Moreno were locked in a tight match that would decide the contest. Moreno took the first set 6-4, but the 6'10" freshman rallied back with a 6-4 win of his own in the second set. The third went to a tiebreaker where the two battled back and forth. Eventually, Southcombe reached match point that was decided with a long rally. The final ball from Moreno was played to deep and went out. Southcombe raised his arms and collapsed on the court where he was mobbed by his teammates for his epic victory.
The win puts Pacific in a tie with Portland for eighth in the WCC standings. The Pilots fell to Saint Mary's today 4-3 in Moraga. A win for the Tigers over Portland on Sunday could get the Tigers as high as sixth in the standing depending on results elsewhere.
Pacific plays Portland at noon on Sunday at the Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center. It is the final home match of the season as well as senior day for Jonathan Lieu, Pacific's lone senior.