The Penn men’s tennis team hoped to christen its new courts at the Hamlin Tennis Center with a victory over St. John’s Wednesday afternoon, but the Red Storm made sure that did not happen.
No. 58 St. John’s (12-5) beat Penn, 5-2, in a match that was never really close.
The Red Storm took a dominating 5-0 lead before Jeremy Court and Zach Katz notched Penn’s only two wins.
After winning the doubles point for each of their last five matches, the Red and Blue (8-5) were swept in doubles.
“I always thought the doubles point is worth more than a point,” coach David Geatz said. “If you lose the point, you get a little discouraged.”
The Quakers were notably discouraged after the doubles matches. Almost immediately, Penn dropped the first set of five of the singles matches.
“You really have to let [the doubles match] go,” sophomore Zach Katz said. “That was difficult.”
Still, the Quakers clawed back in the second set. At one point, Penn was ahead in the second set of five of the six singles matches.
“Our team is gritty,” Geatz said. “Nobody quits. Everybody fights for every point.”
Still, the only Penn player to win his match after losing the first set was Katz. After dropping the first set, 6-1, he won the second set, 7-6, and won his match in a super tiebreaker.
“The energy was definitely low in the beginning, but I gave it my all in the second set and tiebreaker,” he said.
Katz also explained he had to adjust to the elements during his match.
“Coming in, I wasn’t really moving well,” the Boca Raton, Fla. native said. “It was windy and I wasn’t really timing the ball well. Once I got my feet going, everything sort of fell into place.”
While the wind may have troubled a few players, the Quakers certainly enjoyed playing on their new courts.
“The courts are unbelievable,” Katz said. “We definitely have a home court advantage because they’re not like other courts that people are used to playing on.”
“This place is unbelievable,” Geatz echoed, calling Hamlin Tennis Center “one of the nicest outdoor venues in college tennis.”
The Red and Blue will need to rebound quickly as they return to their home courts for their Ivy opener against arch rival Princeton on Saturday.
Between now and then, Geatz expects the team to do less drilling and stay focused on preparing for match play.
Still, the Quakers see the Ivy season as a fresh start. “We’re 0-0 going into Ivies, so I guess we’re tied for first,” Katz said.
Princeton, who lost to St. John’s, 7-0, earlier this season, is a must-win match for the Red and Blue if they want to contend for an Ivy League title.
Geatz expects his team to be particularly fired up for the match.
“You’ve got to be ready to beat Princeton,” he said. “If you need a pep talk to play Princeton, you shouldn’t be playing.”