The Penn men’s tennis team has shown great depth this season, but has often lacked the necessary firepower at the top of the lineup to win against tough opponents.
This was the case this past weekend, the Quakers’ last roadtrip before the start of the Ivy season. The Red and Blue (8-4) split the weekend, beating William & Mary (9-11, 1-0 CAA), 6-1, Sunday after a 4-3 loss to Old Dominion (7-8, 1-2 CAA) Saturday.
During the defeat to Old Dominion, Penn dropped each of the top four singles matches. Although the Quakers have several talented players— nine players have multiple wins this spring — they lack the kind of elite talent at the top of the lineup necessary to beat tougher opponents.
This is a new problem for the Red and Blue.
In 2009 and 2011, the Quakers suffered two of their worst seasons in Penn tennis history. In both seasons, Penn went just 1-6 in the Ivy League despite strong non-conference performances.
However, the one bright spot of those two seasons was No. 1 singles player Hicham Laalej, who was first-team All Ivy both years.
Laalej provided consistency at the top of the lineup which the Quakers lack this season.
Laalej’s replacement at No. 1 singles this season is sophomore Ivan Turudic, who was nationally ranked earlier this season, but is just 3-6 this spring.
Despite his struggles at singles, Turudic has been stellar at doubles this season. He and sophomore partner Nikola Kocovic are 7-2 at No. 1 doubles this season.
The Quakers captured the doubles point in both of their matches this weekend and expect the pairing to be a strength come Ivy season.
The Red and Blue have ten days off before their last non-conference match against St. John’s on March 28, the inaugural match at the new Hamlin Tennis Center.