You’re not the only one who ditched Philly’s cold spell last week — the Penn men’s tennis used Spring Break to head outdoors and into warmer weather as well.
Last week, Penn (3-8) shipped out to California for the first time since the 2010-11 season for a four-game stint, finishing 1-3 through their first outdoor matches of the year.
The Quakers came out swinging in their first match over break against UC Santa Barbara. In what turned out to be a back-and-forth competition, Penn prevailed thanks to junior Jeremy Court. With the match tied 3-3, it was all up to Court, playing the decisive match.
“I knew we weren’t going to win the match if I didn’t win,” Court said.
Down a set and facing a match point in the second set tiebreaker, that mindset fueled Court to rally back, win the tiebreaker and then take the third set to clinch the match.
“It’s always a little bit of a tough situation ... to be the last one out on the court,” coach David Geatz said. “Court showed a lot of fight ... played really well in the clutch.”
Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, they wouldn’t be able to convert that momentum into wins throughout the rest of the trip. After falling to San Diego State 5-2, Penn ran up against red hot teams in Cal Poly and UC Irvine, now on five and seven-game win streaks, respectively.
Penn dropped to Cal Poly, 4-1, but senior co-captain Zack Katz playing at the sixth singles spot took care of business in straight sets to avoid the sweep.
On Sunday, the Quakers nearly pulled out a win to split the road trip. Penn saw match points in both the first and sixth singles positions, but were unable to convert them, and fell short against the Anteaters, losing, 5-2.
Court and freshman Matt Nardella picked up the Quakers’ two victories on Sunday, as they both finished 3-1 over break. But Nardella’s last win didn’t come easy, as he fought through the brutal California heat.
“He overheated, had the chills,” Geatz said. “He won match point, threw up for the second time.”
Undeterred, Nardella battled through the pain to come out with his tenth win in twelve matches in his first season at Penn.
“The guy’s great — everything you could ever hope for,” Geatz said.
While disappointed with the overall results from the trip, Katz noted this has been “the toughest schedule [Penn’s] played in a long time.” Going into the second half of the season and into the core of their Ivy play, that experience just might come back to help the Quakers.
“Coach Geatz has made the schedule much tougher every year,” Court said. “Hopefully going into Ivy season, we’ll be more match ready.”