COLLEGE TENNIS / NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS : Pepperdine’s Season Ended by Florida


A season that began with such promise for Pepperdine ended with a 5-2 loss to Florida on Friday in the first round of the NCAA men’s tennis championships at Athens, Ga.

Ranked No. 4 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Assn. preseason poll, the Waves were No. 11 in the most recent survey.

Pepperdine had been without its two best players for several weeks. A sore back forced Howard Joffe, an NCAA semifinalist last year, to miss the last six weeks of the regular season, and Ashley Naumann turned professional in mid-April.


Joffe, ranked 27th nationally, returned to face the Gators, but lost to eighth-ranked Mark Merklein, 7-6 (7-0), 6-1, at No. 1 singles. Cary Lothringer and Sergio Rico got singles victories for the Waves (17-7) to force the match into doubles, but Brett Stern, a transfer from UC Irvine, and Damon Henkel got the clinching point for the Gators (16-11) with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 victory over Jake Bragonier and Lev Shvarts at No. 3 doubles.

The Waves have not won a postseason match since 1988.


Defending champion and top-seeded Florida, Stanford, Arizona and Texas reached the final four with quarterfinal victories in the NCAA women’s championships at Gainesville, Fla.

Florida defeated No. 6 Arizona State, 5-1, and will face No. 5 Texas, a 5-3 winner over Duke, in a rematch of last year’s championship match, won by the Gators, 5-3.

Second-seeded Stanford ended Georgia’s season for the sixth time in seven years with a 5-1 victory. The Cardinal’s opponent will be No. 8 Arizona, which moved into the semifinals for the first time in school history, upsetting No. 4 California, 5-2. The Cardinal has already beaten the Wildcats twice this season, 7-2 Feb. 20 at Tucson and 5-1 April 9 at Stanford.