The California Lutheran University men’s tennis team battled through the pressure to clinch a playoff spot after defeating Whittier College 7-2.
The Kingsmen started the day with a win in the doubles matches, scoring 2-1 over the Poets.
The number one and number two teams both were victorious in their matches in the doubles games.
Team one consisted of junior Yahn Gawrit and senior Lucas Tilly, who easily took away a quick win, 8-1.
“We had to win. Whoever wins goes to the SCIAC conference finals, so that motivated us to play well and play aggressive,” said Tilly.
Team two, made up of seniors Dara Kashani and Andrew Tufenkian, followed the victory up with a dominating 8-3 win over Whittier.
Kashani said that he used the pressure of clinching a berth in the playoffs as a tool to motivate his teammates and a reason to play more aggressively going into the last matches.
Team three, composed of senior Joshua Legardy and junior Ransom Braaten, battled to the last set but ended up losing the match 8-6 to finish the day.
Cal Lutheran used the beginning two wins to propel themselves into strong outings during the singles matches.
Braaten started the win by picking a powering 6-1 in the first set and finishing the game with a 6-4 win in the number two spot.
Kashani followed that success with a win at the number four spot for the Kingsmen, winning 6-4 in the first and 6-3 in the second set.
Cal Lutheran need only one more win to clinch the last spot of the playoffs. That win came at the hands of junior Michael Sulahian with a comeback in straight sets after losing the first set 1-6.
“Everybody stepped it up today, using the pressure. It’s a good build up to the next few matches to finish the season,” Kashani said.
Sophomore Sebastian Ariza was the only Kingsman to let go their set, losing the first set 2-6. Ariza battled back winning the second set 6-4. The third set tiebreaker was fought hard, but Whittier took the set 6-2.
Gawrit bounced Cal Lutheran back with a come from behind win in the number one spot.
Tilly finished the day for the Kingsmen with a victory in three sets. Tilly lost the first set 5-7 but dominated the next two sets, winnings 7-5 and 10-3.
This win helped clinch a spot in the SCIAC postseason tournament, where the Kingsmen are looking to make a name for themselves as a program.
“We have a chance to show, that even through the tough schedule and the losses we’re still top 4 in the conference, and have a chance to build on that,” said Head Coach Mike Gennette.
Gennette said that clinching the berth was a huge confidence boost not only for the players but for the team as a whole, gaining respect around the league.
The Kingsmen are hoping to use the win to propel them into the Regional Tournament.