With the fervor of youth and the motivation of established traditions, the University of Redlands men's tennis team put together a solid 2012 campaign to complement the already illustrious, multi-decade history of the program. While returning to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2009, the Bulldogs made their 19th appearance in 21 years en route to a 16-10 overall record and fourth-place showing in a top-heavy Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).
With a preseason ranking of No. 15, the Maroon and Gray embarked upon the season with a trio of wins over ranked NAIA opponents, setting the stage for an exciting non-conference schedule. After trailing in doubles, the squad rallied back to win four singles matches to prevail over No. 7 Point Loma Nazarene University. Down 3-4 in the match, Redlands looked to a pair of freshmen to register come-from-behind, three-set victories to clinch the team's overall win. First-year sensation Patrick Lipscomb (Irvine, CA) fought back to defeat the Sea Lions' top opponent, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1, before freshman Taylor Hunt (Seattle, WA) sealed the deal with his 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-1 performance at the No. 3 spot.
After a minor setback to NCAA Division II UC San Diego, the Bulldogs uncorked a doubleheader triumph over No. 9 Vanguard University and No. 12 Concordia University – Irvine. With the opening match tied at three apiece, the junior tandem of Anish Nanda (Cerritos, CA) and Darren Dahl (Westlake Village, CA) secured the winning points with their respective wins at No. 5 and No. 4. Nanda prevailed by scores of 6-4, 6-1, while Dahl captured a 7-6(3), 7-5 triumph. Against Concordia, the team once again broke a three-all tie with stellar play in singles. Lipscomb inspired a momentum shift with his come-from-behind triumph at the top slot, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), which led to consecutive points from Nanda at No. 5 and freshman Teddy Jones (St. Louis, MO) at No. 6.
These impressive team victories spurred a six-match winning streak for the Bulldogs that included four significant decisions over Division III programs from the East Coast.
During a tough 4-5 loss to 11th-ranked Trinity University (TX), the Bulldogs gained bright spots from two of their talented rookies. Lipscomb fired off a 6-0, 6-3 victory against the 10th-ranked singles player in the country, and freshman Nick Cummins (Rancho Mirage, CA) went the distance in a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 triumph at the No. 2 slot.
Redlands returned to the win column with three triumphs over out-of-area teams, including a 7-2 decision over No. 19 University of Mary Washington (VA). The Maroon and Gray notched two of three doubles points against the Brewers, with the No. 2 duo highlighting the performance with its 8-0 effort. Jones made his doubles debut a memorable one as he teamed up with Cummins in the shutout showing.
The Bulldogs faced off against Cal Lutheran University in the opening conference clash on March 15 but fell short to the ninth-ranked Kingsmen. Beyond taking a pair of doubles wins, the highlight of the match came at the No. 6 slot where freshman Jack Reynolds (Denver, CO) came away with an impressive 6-2, 6-0 victory.
Following a three-match interlude of non-conference opponents, which included a 9-0 trouncing of the University of Puget Sound (WA), the Maroon and Gray returned to SCIAC action and cruised past Occidental College by a score of 8-1.
Redlands took down regional foe Chapman University, 7-2, before dismissing Caltech in a 9-0 thrashing that utilized a slightly modified lineup. In doubles, the Maroon and Gray jumped out to a 3-0 lead with Dahl and sophomore Ted Burchett (Gold River, CA) setting the tone with their 8-0 victory at the No. 3 slot. The rookie duo of Parker Glore (Huntington Beach, CA) and Max Licona (Culver City, CA) prevailed in a solid 8-3 showing at No.2 before the top tandem of Jones and Cummins posted an 8-4 win. Glore, Cummins, freshman Gram Leahy (Portland, OR) and junior John Brewer (Portland, OR) also nabbed straight-set triumphs for the Bulldogs.
The team was tested against No. 20 Whittier College in a mid-April meeting, with Redlands pushing past the Poets in a 5-4 performance. The Bulldogs overcame an early deficit in doubles as Lipscomb, Cummins, Hunt and Nanda each secured singles wins in straight sets.
Redlands faced the top two teams in the conference during consecutive days to determine the final seeding of the upcoming SCIAC Tournament. Unfortunately, the Maroon and Gray fell to both No. 6 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges and No. 11 Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. Against Pomona-Pitzer, Cummins impressed with an individual sweep as he teamed up with Jones for an intense 9-8(5) performance at the No. 2 doubles slot, before dismissing his No. 2 opponent by scores of 6-2, 6-4.
The Bulldogs enjoyed a brief change of pace by competing in the 112th Annual Ojai Valley Tournament, notching five first-round victories in singles while three doubles teams advanced. Highlighting the event for the Maroon and Gray, Lipscomb earned a spot in the Round of 16 after pulling out a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Patricio Carregha from Whittier College. In doubles, he joined forces with senior Mark Bloom (San Juan Capistrano, CA) as the No. 4 seed to advance to the quarterfinal round.
On May 4, Redlands returned to SCIAC action with the first round of the tournament at the friendly confines of Verdieck Courts. The Bulldogs defeated No. 25 Whittier College in a 5-1 performance that included a doubles sweep and singles victories by Lipscomb at No. 1 and Reynolds at No. 5.
This win propelled the Maroon and Gray into the semifinal match against the fifth-ranked Stags of CMS. Cummins and Jones rattled off five straight games to overcome an early deficit and clinch the 8-5 decision at No. 2. In addition, the top duo of Lipscomb and Bloom put together a strong 8-5 performance, resulting in the early lead 2-1 for Redlands. Unfortunately, the momentum stopped there as the Stags held off the Bulldogs in every singles match.
Redlands then faced No. 7 Cal Lutheran in the third-place match with hopes of avenging their early-season loss to the Kingsmen. However, the Bulldogs struggled at the top of the singles lineup and eventually fell by a score of 4-5.
Amidst an incredibly talented conference with five teams ranked among the nation's best, the Maroon and Gray remained optimistic of a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Championships. On May 10, the announcement came and included the Bulldogs in the postseason with a short jaunt to CMS for another rematch against Cal Lutheran.
However, the third meeting was not the charm for Redlands, as it fell in a 3-5 decision. With the consistent performance of the doubles duos, the Bulldogs gained two points for the early lead for the fourth consecutive time against a ranked foe. But Dahl was the only victor among the singles matches as he notched a solid 6-3, 6-3 showing at No. 3.
Nonetheless, the excitement of the season continued as Lipscomb and Bloom landed in the NCAA Individual Doubles Championships in Cary, NC. By advancing to the quarterfinals with a three-set victory over their counterparts from Bates College (ME), the Bulldog duo garnered All-America honors for the first time in their respective careers.
Beyond the match results, the Bulldog men's tennis team had much to celebrate in 2012, as Nanda collected CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for his success in the classroom and on the court. In addition, the squad was recognized for their scholarly commitments as an Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-Academic Team. Multiple players also received the distinction of Scholar-Athlete from the ITA, illustrating the program's commitment to achieving academic and athletic prowess.
Furthermore, the rookie duo of Lipscomb and Cummins garnered All-SCIAC honors for their stellar play during the conference season. Lipscomb landed on the First Team and Cummins earned a spot on the Second Team.
Finally, the squad completed the 2012 season with a national ranking of No. 17, adding to the 20-year history of finishing among the top teams in NCAA Division III.
Although the contributions of Bloom and senior Michael Jacobson (Chicago, IL) will be missed, Redlands men's tennis returns a hearty and determined group that knows the sweet taste of the NCAA Championships, which serves as great motivation. With Head Coach Geoff Roche at the helm, the squad sits in outstanding position to continue thriving both on and off the court, with the prestigious history and traditions of the program setting the standard for excellence.