It’s always tough to have a shot at victory and come up just short.
Going into this weekend, Penn men’s tennis had a shot at clinching a share of the Ivy League championship for the first time since 2007. Despite a very strong overall season, two tough losses against Dartmouth on Saturday and Harvard on Sunday put the Quakers (15-12, 4-3 Ivy) out of contention.
“Our guys competed hard, they practiced hard the whole year and we gave it a good shot,” assistant coach David DiLucia said. “I think we took a lot of people by surprise [this season], and we came up one weekend short but I’m not disappointed at all in our guys. They competed hard every single match and they did it with style that the alumni would be proud of.”
Like its male counterpart, Penn women’s tennis struggled this weekend, similarly dropping matches to both Harvard and Dartmouth. After a crushing loss to Dartmouth on Saturday, the Red and Blue (9-13, 2-5 Ivy) came out hot against Harvard, going 2-0-1 in doubles matches to earn the first point of the day.
Penn then found itself in a hole, with five members of the team dropping their first sets. Although many of the second sets were close, only freshman No. 4 Marija Curnic finished with a win. As a result, Penn dropped the meet, 5-2.
Things weren’t much better on the men’s side, where the team had a lot to play for but wasn’t able to get the job done. Sophomore No. 4 Max Cancilla was the only member of the team to win both his matches this weekend.
However, other players nearly emulated Cancilla such as junior Kyle Mautner, who came into this weekend undefeated in the Ivy League. Mautner lost a very close match at Dartmouth against Charlie Broom, who is ranked No. 114 in the country.
“I think Kyle Mautner’s the best player in the Ivy League. I think he should win Ivy Player of the Year. He played number one every single match, he ran the table except for one match,” DiLucia said. “He’s back and he’s gonna be great, he cares and he keeps getting better every single year."
A critical element from the two losses was the team’s performance in doubles matches. Penn went 6-8 in Ivy doubles matches this season, and failed to win the doubles point in all of their last four meets. This is an area in which the Quakers will look to improve next season.
“We need to play a little bit better doubles; it would’ve been huge if we could’ve gotten the doubles point — it was really close against Dartmouth for us, even though we lost one of them, we were in the others and had many opportunities,” DiLucia said. “Harvard killed us in doubles. But, you know, the encouraging part of Harvard was as bad as we played in doubles, the guys rebounded and they played well in singles and that came down to the wire.”
Although it’s tough to come out of a weekend 0-2, both the men’s and women’s teams fought hard and capped off successful seasons with triumphant spirits, if not triumphant records.
With a strong returning group of underclassmen in both programs, they’ll look to turn adversity from this season into toughness and drive for next season.
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