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Sophomore Matt Nardella played a huge role in the Quakers' win over then-No.16 Penn State on Sunday, winning both his doubles match with partner Vim De Alwis and his singles match.

Credit: Ying Pan

Armed with rackets instead of rocks, Penn men’s tennis got its chance to play David last weekend to No. 16 Penn State’s Goliath. After fighting through four back-and-forth sets, the previously unranked Quakers toppled the Nittany Lions 5-2 on the road.

The victory was no small task —in a press release, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association called the match the “biggest upset of the year.” Moreover, Sunday marks the first time the Quakers (3-0) have emerged victorious from a battle with the Nittany Lions since the ECAC Championships in 2006.

Penn entered last weekend’s match undefeated, with wins over Drexel and St. Joseph’s in the City 6 Tournament on Jan. 24. With the victory over Penn State, the Quakers extended their winning streak to three matches, the team’s best start in four years.

And with home games against unranked Furman and William & Mary next on the docket for men’s tennis, on Feb. 6 and 7, respectively, it is likely that the Quakers will continue their hot streak.

Although Penn State (3-1) took the first point of the match at No. 2 doubles, the Quakers quickly rallied, capturing the doubles point. The pair of juniors Vim De Alwis and sophomore Matt Nardella tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-2 set victory at No. 3 doubles. Senior Jeremy Court and freshman Nicolas Podesta followed their teammates’ lead, putting Penn up a set over its opponent with a 7-5 win at No. 1 doubles.

The Nittany Lions were only able to capture two more points at the No. 2 and No. 3 singles positions. Behind the racket power of Nardella, Podesta, Court and freshman Josh Popman, Penn took four match points. The last Red and Blue player to finish up on the courts was junior Blaine Willenborg at No. 6 singles, who sealed Penn’s upset in three sets, 7-5, 3-6, 1-0.

As a result of the road victory, the Quakers broke into the ITA’s top-75 ranking for the first time since 2012. Thanks to the upset in Happy Valley, Penn now shares the No. 51 spot with Purdue.

The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, did not fare as well. Due to last weekend’s loss to the Red and Blue, Penn State slipped to No. 22.

Although the Quakers were intermittently ranked throughout the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the current ranking is the highest the squad has climbed since the end of the 2006 season, coincidentally the same year that Penn last beat Penn State.

Furthermore, the No. 51 ranking is only the second time in coach David Gaetz’s tenure that Penn has received top-75 recognition from the ITA.

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