Advantage, Penn tennis.
As both Penn tennis teams near the end of the season, each weekend is even more pivotal than the last. And in the penultimate conference doubleheader weekend, the Quakers gained important momentum. The women’s squad (10-8, 3-2 Ivy) rebounded from a 0-2 start in Ivy play and roared into impressive form, with a weekend sweep of Brown and Yale leading them to three straight wins. The men (14-9, 1-3) responded to a 3-0 deficit against Brown to complete an impressive 4-3 comeback. With this weekend producing some of the Red and Blue’s best tennis, it seems right to highlight some of the stars on the court this weekend.
It is always the most difficult to play at the top of the lineup. As the No. 1 singles player, you face the best talent a school has to offer. The matches are guaranteed to be physical and the rallies are sure to be of high quality. The pressure of playing at the top of the lineup is high enough as it is. For Kyle Mautner, that pressure was magnified by the fact that his match against Brown would yield the deciding point for the tie.
In an all-lefty matchup against Bear’s junior Jack Haworth, Mautner endured a lengthy three set battle to secure Penn it’s second Ivy win of the season. After losing the doubles point and the first two completed singles matches, the Quakers could not lose in order to secure the win against the Bears. But as the trio of Josh Pompan, Max Cancilla, and Marshall Sharp secured wins to draw the Quakers level in the tie, it would come down to Mautner to deliver the win.
After dropping a 7-5 second set to his opponent, the challenge for Mautner was to refresh in the third. So often when tennis players are two games away from securing a simple straight sets win, they collapse in the third set and give away the match. This was not the case for Mautner. He stayed engaged, using his lefty forehand to pull his opponent off the court. Lefty tennis players don’t see other lefties play very often, and aren’t used to the opposite spins, a fact that Mautner used to his advantage en route to a 6-3 final set and the win.
There is nothing more valuable in a lineup than having a reliable competitor, and in her junior season, Lina Qostal is turned into exactly that. The Morocco native won both her singles matches on the weekend and turned in a strong doubles showing with fellow junior Ria Vaidya to win against Brown.
For Qostal, consistency and spin anchor her all-court game. The Rabat resident translates a game tailor-made for the red clay onto the quicker, lower bouncing hardcourts. Playing No. 4 singles, she often uses height and placement to get shorter responses, and uses strong court positioning to finish points at the net.
Against Brown freshman Devon Jack, Qostal used this tactic to discombobulate her opponent and take away Jack’s time on court. And in the pivotal moments, Jack was uncomfortable with Qostal’s ball, as the Quaker came out on top with a 7-6(5) third set. In the same weekend, when against a bigger, flatter hitter like Yale’s Elizabeth Zordani, Qostal used a heavier, more consistent ball to break down her opponent’s shots and draw errors. In another three-set match, Qostal triumphed with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory. The combination makes her a tricky opponent and gives her options to bring home the win against a variety of playing styles.
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