Men’s Tennis Rallies to Knock Off #18 Hope International

Submitted by: Ron Smith - March 26th, 2009


Arthur Kalayjian earned a singles victory and then teamed up with partner Bryan Cox to win at number one doubles to help Westmont Men’s Tennis defeat #18 Hope International on Thursday afternoon at the Abbott Tennis Courts.

“It feels good to get two points for the first time this season,” said Kalayjian after the match.

The junior defeated Hope International’s Brett Harvey 6-1, 6-0 in the number five single’s match but it was the only singles point the Warriors would earn other than a point by default at number six. Hope International arrived at the Montecito campus with only five players and was forced to default one singles match and one doubles match.

“I tried to execute what Coach (Chris Elwood) talked to me about,” said Kalayjian. “Return well, come in off the short ball and have big targets. I go out there and make sure my feet are moving. If my feet aren’t moving my game’s not moving. We stress first serves. No double faults – that’s a no go. I focused on pushing forward, coming to the net and finishing the volley.”

On the number one court, Bryan Cox lost a heartbreaker to Rajko Mladenovic 1-6, 6-0, 7-5.

“It was a tough match,” acknowledged Cox. “I played really well from the start and then all the games went his way in the second set.”

Cox was down 5-1 in the third set but staged a remarkable rally. In one of the longest games in resent memory, Cox held serve to make the score 5-2 in the third set.

“There must have been 15-20 duce points and 10 match points,” said Cox without exaggeration.

Cox then broke Mladenovic’s serve, held serve and then broke serve again to tie the set at five-all. But Mladenovic won the next two sets to claim the match.

“I think Bryan’s comeback had an effect on our team just to see his guts with the match on the line,” said Elwood. “He fell short, but it set the team up for doubles.”

Down 4-2 after singles, the Warriors would need all three doubles points to claim a victory. One was guaranteed as a result of the forfeit, but the other two would have to be earned.

Kalayjian and Cox teamed up at number one doubles and claimed an 8-5 victory over Mladenovic and Sebastian Bunescu.

“We played really confident,” said Cox of the match. “We have been playing really good doubles. We have lost only two matches in doubles and have a win over Fresno (Pacific) who hadn’t lost all season. We played strong return games and that helped us relax on the serve games.”

On the number two court, Westmont’s Ryley Schultz and Aaron Cooke were taking on Dominic Tinodi and Johan Weich. Down 3-2, the Warriors won the next six games to record an 8-3 victory.

“The way Ryley and Aaron bounced back after losing their singles matches was electrifying,” said Elwood. “Ryley played the best doubles match I have seen him play. Aaron was so solid on serve and return and keeping the ball low. It was a beautiful chemistry between the two of them as the set up man and the put away man. It was great to see their intensity.

“Given the circumstance of our number one and number two singles players not in the lineup (due to injury), this is a solid win for our program,” continued Elwood. “The fact that it came in doubles is tremendously rewarding to me as a coach. We have been struggling in that area and have been working very hard. Yesterday’s practice was all doubles. For it to show up in a successful result is a tribute to the team’s work ethic. To pull out a win with our injuries against a nationally ranked team at this time of the season is a great boast to us and will get us fired up emotionally for the next conference matches.”

The Warriors return to action on Saturday when they travel to Riverside to take on #7 California Baptist. The match is schedule for a 12:30 p.m. start.