For Penn tennis, the confines of the Hecht Tennis Center and Penn Park provide a home-court advantage like no other.
This past weekend the men’s team went on the road, trekking down to Norfolk and Williamsburg, Va., to play against Old Dominion and William and Mary, respectively. The women’s team stayed in Philadelphia to go head to head with its neighbors, the Drexel Dragons.
On the women’s side, the Quakers played a strong game, procuring a 7-0 victory with wins all across the board. This not only marked the end of the Dragons’ winning streak but the eighth consecutive time that Penn has defeated Drexel.
“The mentality going into the match was to be professional about our preparation and consequently, its execution,” Penn coach Sanela Kunovac said.
“We are typically a very good on-the-road team, but we are a very vicious team at home. And those two are not mutually exclusive.”
Protecting home turf in doubles play, the No. 1 flight of senior Sonya Latycheva and junior Kana Daniel and the No. 3 flight of freshmen O.J. Singh and Marta Kowalska notched easy victories over the Dragons with like scores of 6-2. The No. 2 pairing of sophomores Ria Vaidya and Lina Qostal did not play to completion but saw a win for the Big Red and Blue with a score of 5-3.
In singles play, the entire squad dominated the competition. Latycheva played the closest match of the afternoon, but after persevering through a second-set tiebreak, she came through to take a point for Penn.
“I think we’re really trying to solidify our vision of the team we’re becoming,” Kunovac said.
The coach believes that when it comes to establishing something as fundamental as this, it is important to facilitate the process, especially for the freshmen.
“They’re finding a way into the team that’s very organic. They’re competing very well but not playing as well as they’re capable of,” she said.
“I want them to get to the vision that they are capable. I want them to play without doubt and fear, and to really play for the team.”
On the men’s side, however, the results were not as kind. Though they held their ground in Virginia, the Quakers dropped both games: 6-1 to Old Dominion and 5-2 to William and Mary.
“You know, it’s always a little tougher on the road,” coach David Geatz said. “Last week we also had a great lineup at home, and we just didn’t have that this week.”
On Saturday, the squad fell short in both doubles and singles play. The lone win was scored by sophomore Josh Pompan, who played three arduous sets against Michael Weindl, a sophomore from Germany, where he is one of the top 10 tennis players in his age group.
On Sunday, Pompan procured another win for the Big Red and Blue along with junior Matt Nardella in singles play.
“He’s always been very good for us,” Geatz said of Pompan’s contributions this weekend. “Tennis is a priority for him. He’s always working hard and putting in extra time.”
Despite the results of this weekend, Geatz remains very positive for the upcoming Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament. The squad will be playing all the Ivy League schools with the exception of Columbia, along with St. John’s.
“Don’t worry,” Geatz assured.
“Next week, we’ll play a better game.”
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