THOUSAND OAKS — Trailing 4-1 in the second set, after already losing the first, is a tough enough hole to climb out of. Then put the No. 15-ranked singles player in the West Region on the other side of the court and you have yourself a serious challenge.
But Occidental College's Jeremy Shapiro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) rallied, taking the set 6-4, and then eventually the third set 7-6 (7-2) and match from the talented Ray Worley of Cal Lutheran.
The 6-foot junior improved to 10-7 on the season as Oxy's No. 2.
Shapiro's win was impressive, but Ben Herrington-Gilmore (Stillwater, Minn.) picked up the only other win for the Tigers (11-7,0-5 SCIAC) at No. 6 singles and the Oxy men's tennis team lost 7-2 at No. 5 Cal Lu (11-5, 3-0 SCIAC).
Herrington-Gilmore defeated Cody Kowalczyk 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
Kevin Siebs (Houston) had an even bigger challenge than Shapiro, facing the No. 2-ranked player in the region in the No. 1 singles spot. Siebs fell to Nick Ballou 6-2, 6-3.
Oxy hasn't fared well on paper in the very competitive SCIAC, but has competed with some of the nation's best teams.
"The wins and losses aren't reflecting our effort just yet, but we are a program on the move and I think we're headed in the right direction," Occidental men's tennis coach Brian Newhall said. "You look at a day like today, against one of the best teams in the country, and our guys don't back down. Shapiro picks up a huge win after falling behind early, Ben gets a victory at No. 6 and even Kevin Siebs gave a really good player his best shot.
"Our guys compete with each other every day in practice, they bring a great attitude, and I'm excited about the future of Occidental tennis."
The Tigers return to the courts on April 20, hosting Caltech at Scholl Canyon at 2 p.m.