SAN DIEGO - The #10 Pepperdine men's tennis team took home its 40th West Coast Conference Tournament title, but not without a formidable challenge from #39 BYU. Mousheg Hovhannisyan was the Waves' hero today, winning in the third set tiebreaker to lift his team to a 4-3 victory.
After winning the doubles point, Pepperdine (24-5) took a 3-0 lead with a pair of singles victories. The Cougars (21-6), who outlasted San Diego 4-3 in the semifinals yesterday, stormed back and knotted the score at 3-3.
Hovhannisyan (North Hollywood, Calif./Continental Academy) found himself deadlocked with Andrey Goryachkov 6-6 and his match, and in turn the dual, all came down to the tiebreaker. The senior shined and won the difference maker 7-2 to lift his team to victory.
"I've had some close ones at the conference tournament, but this was probably the closest match I've experienced," said head coach Adam Steinberg, "The finals are always tough. BYU played amazing today, you've got to give them credit. They gave us everything they had and came up big during the big points."
The Waves' streak remains intact, and they have not lost a single dual at the WCC Tournament in over 20 years.
"When you're expected to do something it isn't easy," continued Steinberg. "The team knows Pepperdine's history at this event and there's a lot of pressure to win. But these guys fight so hard all year, fighting hard for each other, and they figure out a way to win. Mousheg found a way to win today."
Pepperdine got the day started off on a good note, winning the doubles point after failing to do so against BYU during the regular season.
Finn Tearney (Wellington, New Zealand/Wellington College) and Alex Sarkissian (Glendale, Calif./Glendale CC) disposed of Spencer Smith and Goryachkov 8-1 to open the afternoon, while it was David Sofaer (Bellevue Hill, Australia/Sydney Distance Education HS) and Hovhannisyan who put away an 8-6 decision versus John Pearce and Keaton Cullimore to clinch the point.
Tearney and Sarkissian continued their winning ways in singles, both posting straight-set decisions to lift the Waves to a 3-0 advantage. Tearney's 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Smith was by far the most convincing win of the day, while Sarkissian held of Francis Sargeant 7-6, 6-3.
BYU got a bit of retribution after Pepperdine shut the Cougars out in singles during the regular-season meeting, and won three-straight matches to turn the momentum in their favor.
Patrick Kawka battled past Sebastian Fanselow (Essen, Germany/Kaplan College Prep) 7-6, 7-6, while Cullimore - absent from the lineup last time around - topped Francis Alcantara (Cagayan de Oro, Philippines/Fresno State) 7-6, 7-5.
Pearce tied the team score up at 3-3 after outlasting Sofaer in three sets.
Goryachkov, a freshman, fed off the Cougars' momentum, rallying back from a 2-5 deficit against Hovhannisyan to force the tiebreaker in the deciding match. With his teammates' support around him, the Wave was able to take back control of the match and win 7-2 in the tiebreaker.
"Moush got up early in the tiebreaker, which took a lot of pressure off of him," commented Steinberg. "I'm really happy with how he played in the tiebreaker. He played like a senior."
With the win, the Waves earned the automatic bid into the NCAA Championships. The field will be announced at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30 on NCAA.com.
BYU vs Pepperdine
Apr 27, 2013 at San Diego, Calif.
(Barnes Tennis Center)
#10 Pepperdine 4, #39 BYU 3
1. #45 Patrick Kawka (BYU) def. #8 Sebastian Fanselow (PEP) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-1)
2. #103 Finn Tearney (PEP) def. Spencer Smith (BYU) 6-2, 6-1
3. #60 Alex Sarkissian (PEP) def. Francis Sargeant (BYU) 7-6 (7-1), 6-3
4. Keaton Cullimore (BYU) def. #99 Francis Alcantara (PEP) 7-6 (7-5), 7-5
5. Mousheg Hovhannisyan (PEP) def. Andrey Goryachkov (BYU) 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (7-2)
6. John Pearce (BYU) def. David Sofaer (PEP) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
1. Sebastian Fanselow/Francis Alcantara (PEP) vs. #80 Patrick Kawka/Francis Sargeant (BYU) 7-6,
2. Alex Sarkissian/Finn Tearney (PEP) def. Spencer Smith/Andrey Goryachkov (BYU) 8-1
3. David Sofaer/Mousheg Hovhannisyan (PEP) def. John Pearce/Keaton Cullimore (BYU) 8-6
BYU 21-6; National ranking #39
Pepperdine 24-5; National ranking #10
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (2,3,1,4,6,5)