#24 Pepperdine 4, #14 Washington 3

Alex Rafidison defeated Peter Scharler 7-5,4-6,6-1 to clinch the match for Pepperdine as the 24th ranked Waves knocked the 14th ranked Huskies from the unbeaten ranks with a 4-3 upset at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on Saturday evening.

With the defeat the Huskies fell to 7-1, while the Waves improved to 5-1.

Little separated Rafidison and Scharler in the #6 singles match as one break in each set proved to be the difference. In the first set, both players held serve until the 12th game, with Scharler serving at 5-6. After Scharler won the first point of the game with a backhand approach winner, he committed four consecutive unforced errors, including two double faults, to hand Rafidison the set.

In the second set, with the score tied at 2 and Rafidison serving in the fifth game, Scharler got two break point chances at 15-40 and capitalized by running down a terrific volley from Rafidison and flicking a backhand pass into the deuce court. Rafidison returned the break in the eighth game to tie the set at 4-4, finally converting on his third chance when Scharler netted a backhand.

In the ninth game Scharler broke back, as Rafidison double faulted on consecutive foot faults and then Scharler ripped a backhand winner down the line, drawing a huge roar from the partisan crowd. Scharler then held serve in the next game and sealed the set with a forehand drop volley winner.

In the third set, Rafidison dominated, taking a 5-0 lead before Scharler could win a game. Two big turning points occurred in the first game and then in the third. In the first, Rafidison had a game point but apparently double faulted to even the game at deuce, as his second serve looked out to Scharler, landing beyond the center service line. However, the chair umpire overruled Scharler's call and awarded the point, and the game, to Rafidison, drawing derisive jeers from the crowd.

Then in the third game, trailing 0-2, Scharler had four break chances to get on the board at 1-2 and back on serve but Rafidison denied them all. At 15-40 and facing two break points, Rafidison saved the first with a backhand volley winner and the second with a service winner into Scharler's body. Then he saved the third break chance on the 10th point of the game, with a forehand volley winner and the final one on the 12th point with a service winner. Rafidison had three game points of his own and converted on the third chance when Scharler netted a backhand.

Trailing 0-5 and facing two match points and an 0-6 final set loss against his serve at 15-40, Scharler recovered to win the game, winning four consecutive points with winners, two on backhand volleys and two on serve. Unfortunately that turned out to be the only highlight for Scharler in the set as Rafidison served out the match.

Three and a half hours earlier the match began with doubles and the Waves won the point, winning at the #1 and #3 positions. At #3, Kevin Borzenski and Richard Johnson defeated Scharler and Daniel Chu 8-6. At #1 Scott Doerner and Pedro Rico, the 26th ranked pair in the country, defeated Alex Vlaski and Christoph Palmanshofer 8-5. After Doerner got broken in the opening game of the set, the Waves came back to win the next four games and never faced any major threat from the Huskies.

The Huskies won at #2 doubles as Alex Slovic and Andy Kuharszky prevailed 8-5 over Jonas Berg and Ivor Lovrak.

When play shifted to singles, the Huskies took a 2-1 lead as Chu prevailed 6-2,6-3 over Johnson at the #4 position and Vlaski bested Rico 6-4,6-1 at #1. Pepperdine tied the match at 2 when Lovrak beat Kuharszky 6-4,6-4 at #5, but the Huskies went up 3-2 when Palmanshofer defeated Berg 6-4,6-2 at #3. That was it though for the Huskies as Doerner, ranked #88, upset #9 Slovic 7-5,6-3 at #2 and Rafidison beat Scharler at #6.

Following the tough loss, the Huskies hope to resume their winning ways when they host Gonzaga in a non-conference match at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on Friday, February 18 at 5 p.m.


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