LOS ANGELES — The regular season may be over, but Occidental tennis coach Brian Newhall's program is still, "on the move" according to the outspoken Tigers coach.
With a pair of wins over Caltech and Chapman to finish the season, Oxy closes its best regular season in 10 years with a 13-7 overall record and a 1-5 SCIAC record.
Oxy swept Caltech 9-0 on April 20 and edged Chapman 5-4 on April 22.
The Chapman match in particular might be an indicator of where Newhall wants the new-look Tigers to head.
With the score tied at four apiece against the Panthers, Ben Herrington-Gilmore (Stillwater, Minn.), the Tigers lone senior and captain, rallied to beat Kevin Smyth 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, earning Oxy its closest victory of the year.
As he edged Smyth in the third set, Herrington-Gilmore let out a loud, "Let's go, Oxy," that had his teammates and coaches fired up.
"It was one of the gutsiest performances I've ever scene," said Newhall. "A storybook ending with our senior leader clinching the victory.
"His teammates love and respect him. What a great way to finish out the year."
Jeremy Shapiro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Jordan Brown (San Diego) combined to score three points each for Oxy. Shapiro picked up a victory over Dylan Tevlin at No. 2 singles 6-1, 6-0, Brown beat Andre Herd at No. 3 singles 6-3, 6-2, and the pair together teamed up to defeat Tevlin and Alex Klein 8-6 as the Tigers No. 1 doubles team.
Stephen Perkins (Seattle) defeated Klein 6-2, 6-1 for Oxy's fifth point.
Considering where they were last season, 6-14 overall, this year has been a drastic improvement.
The Tigers popped into the ITA national rankings earlier this year, avoided getting swept by any of the SCIAC powerhouses and all five of their conference losses came at the hands of nationally ranked opponents, all positives as Oxy tries to assert itself competitively in an elite men's tennis conference.
"When you have five teams in your league ranked in the top 20, it's not going to be easy," Newhall said. "But our guys wouldn't have it any other way. They want to play the best and they want to beat the best."
The Tigers finish their season at the SCIAC Championships hosted by Redlands on May 4-5.