Eagles conclude record-breaking season

For the third consecutive season, Biola men’s tennis program broke their program record for wins in a season.

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Kyle Kohner, Writer

April 24 marked an end to the 2015-2016 men’s tennis season where the Eagles break records and a core group of sophomores break into their prime, providing high yet exciting expectations heading into next year.

Ojai Valley Tournament

From April 22-24, the 116th annual Ojai Valley Tournament took place and featured everyone on the Eagles except sophomore David Garcia.

The round of 16, featuring sophomores Lucas Lee, and Philip Westwood and junior Luke Mountain, saw only Lee advance to the quarter finals. The electric sophomore received a first round bye and played a close and hard-fought match, winning his first set 6-4 and his second 7-5.

The quarter finals was the end for the heavily represented Eagles team in the tournament. Biola’s remaining player, Lee, lost in two sets 1-6, 5-7 to Abilene Christian University sophomore Hunter Holman. Holman was an Eagle-killer, eliminating Lee and senior Andrew Greenfield the same day.

It was a better day in doubles than singles for the Eagles despite no one making it past the quarters again. The pair of Lee and Mountain, potent all year, played a thrilling match, losing their first set 4-6, winning 6-2 in the second set. The match was to be decided by a 10-point tiebreaker with the Eagles duo topping its opponent 10-7. The strong showing in doubles helps display the improvement the Biola tennis program has had in that aspect of the game where they struggled mightily in past years.

Improved doubles

“Because we were much better as a team in doubles this year compared to last, we stayed in contention and were capable of winning every match this year,” said sophomore Joe Turnquist.

The Eagles have a lot to build upon for next year, including improved doubles play and an even stronger singles game that proved the driving force for the jam-packed Eagles lineup with intriguing young talent. The Eagles will have an arsenal of current sophomores who will only get better with more experience and seasoning. That specific group features Lee, Westwood, Vartuli, Garcia and Turnquist.

All-GSAC team

The Eagles were especially strong up top in singles. Lee and Westwood combined for a scary 1-2 combination this year, where the two took turns playing at the top spots. The two were also recently named to the All-GSAC team. The honor was Westwood’s first in his career and Lee’s second honor in as many seasons as an Eagle. Westwood finished with an impressive 11-10 overall singles record. Lee was even more dominant, going 14-6 overall. Even more impressive, Lee won seven out of his last 10 matches played. It is a great combo returning for two more years.

“I will be working a lot on my forehand and turning it more into a weapon that I can count on every point,” Lee said. “I will also be working on my footwork and conditioning a lot.”

Despite the record-breaking season, the Eagles lost too many matches that were closer than the scorecard indicated.

“Next year we need to win close matches more consistently,” Lee said. “This is just going to come from having more experience and being used to playing close matches.”

Bright future

The future looks bright for the Eagles, who improved in all facets of the game this year, helping them obtain their best record in school history. With a young core that will only get better with experience and an exciting recruiting class coming to Biola, expect this team to win even more next year.

“We have some recruits coming in that will help us improve and make practice more competitive,” Turnquist said. “Also we all are gonna work hard this summer to get better and improve the things we talk about with coach.”

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