Altamonte Springs, FL- The Big Blues finished another incredible season today against #14 Azusa Pacific. BSC gave the Cougars a run for their money battling throughout the doubles and singles contests but ultimately fell 5-0.
The day started with the doubles matches and the Big Blues had a chance in two of them. At the number 1 doubles, Azusa Pacific was just too much for Giorgi Datashvili and Luca Ockernahl and they lost 8-0. But the #2 doubles match was much closer with Platon Gud and Ignacio Pulido holding a 1 game lead early in the match. However, the Cougars #2 doubles once again rallied, winning 4 games in a row to secure an 8-4 victory. But the match of the tournament goes to the #3 doubles of Alexandr Rudenco and Anthony Braem who were in an absolute dog fight. The match was a back and forth affair with Rudenco and Braem leading 6-5. Azusa Pacific fought back and the match was ties 8-8 and went into a decisive tiebreaker set. The Big Blue duo ran out of gas toward and could not hold on falling 9-8 giving Azusa Pacific a huge momentum boost heading into the singles matches.
Azusa Pacific only had to win two more singles matches to advance to the next round of the tournament. They got their 1st point at the #1 doubles, when the #1 singles player for DII Oliver Frank beat Platon Gud 6-0, 6-0. But credit needs to be given to Bluefield State for not laying down. Anthony Braem bounced back from his #3 doubles loss to upset #14 Christian Schmid in the 1st set 6-3 but was losing the 2nd 6-5. His match ended unfinished before the 2nd Set finished. Alexandr Rudenco also played extremely well, winning 6-3 in the 1st but was losing 6-5 in the second. His match was also unfinished before completion of Set 2. Giorgi Datashvili also won his 1st set 6-3 then lost 6-1 and was up in the 3rd set 2-1 before the stoppage. Azusa's final point to seal the win over BSC came at the #5 doubles. Ignacio Pulido fell in the 1st set 6-2 but was right there in set 2 and even held the lead in the match for a brief moment. But Antonio Pejic of Azusa dug deep and won 7-6, winning the tie breaker 7-4. Luca Ockernahl had the best chance to get a point for BSC but his match was a little slower than the others were. Ockernahl won the 1st set 6-4 and was leading 5-2 when the stoppage occurred.
The Big Blues have a lot to hang their hat on this season with an overall incredible performance in the NCAA Tournament. It was another year of Regional dominance for the Big Blues, and proved once again that they are one of the premier programs in the country. Senior's Anthony Braem and Guillermo Cortes-Lopez have accomplished a lot in their time at Bluefield State and will now focus on their careers, as they will walk across the stage with their Diploma on Saturday.