It wasn’t a clean sweep, but it was pretty close.
In its first action since a busy weekend where the team went 1-2 against three ranked Ivy squads at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, Penn men’s tennis rebounded swiftly with a 6-1 defeat of New Mexico.
“[It was] one of our best overall performances of the year, we’re healthy, and coming on. We’re going to be good, barring injuries,” Penn coach David Geatz, who played and coached for New Mexico, said. “It’s a good team, too. Their record doesn’t reflect it, but they beat us easily last year and were one of the top 40 teams in the country.”
In doubles action, the Quakers (4-6) fell one win short of the doubles point and a sweep of all seven points. While senior Austin Kaplan and sophomore Nicholai Westergaard posted a victory from the top doubles seed over Hayden Sabatka and Bart Van Leijsen on a tiebreaker, the Lobos topped juniors Matt Nardella and Thomas Spratt, 6-4, and freshmen Kyle Mautner and Dmitry Shatalin fell in the tiebreaker.
For the first time since Jan. 16 against Navy, however, Penn swept all six singles matches. Only Mautner required a third set to knock off his Lobo counterpart at the top of the ladder.
Regarding Mautner, his star rookie, Geatz had nothing but praise for the Greenwich, Conn., native who took down reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Dovydas Sakinis on Feb. 12.
“Mautner is a freshman and maybe he’s the best guy in the Ivy League, or at least comes up in the discussion,” he said.
Geatz noted that while Mautner has been stellar at the one, the return of senior captain Vim De Alwis has made the team even more stacked at the top. On Saturday, De Alwis won his fourth consecutive singles match, 6-4, 6-2, over Van Leijsen.
“De Alwis is playing unbelievable tennis. He’s chewing people and doesn’t lose more than six games a match,” Geatz said. “He might be the hottest player in the Ivy League right now.”
Penn State visits the Hecht Tennis Center to face the Red and Blue next Sunday, which will be Penn’s last live action on campus before its spring break trips to Colorado and California. Geatz said the team is taking things one step at a time, though.
“The guys always look forward to spring break. They have a good time, they train hard, they face some very good competition,” Geatz said. “But I think the guys are looking at the opportunity to play Penn State. This is their best team since that coach has been there, and that’s going to be a really good match.”
With the team now healthy and some solid wins under its belt, Geatz prediction may yet be borne out. Perhaps most importantly, the Quakers have secured all four wins this season at home, so the confines of the Hecht Tennis Center will be invaluable in the coming weekend.
Regardless, with composure like that seen on Saturday, Geatz could be able to rest easily when the Nittany Lions come to town.
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