Wind blows in Penn men's tennis team's favor
The Quakers come back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Bears, 4-3
April 9, 2012, 12:21 am · Updated April 11, 2012, 12:14 am·
Justin Cohen | DP
As the sun went down on the Hamlin Tennis Center, the weekend’s struggles quickly faded away from the memories of David Geatz’s players.
On a bright and windy Sunday afternoon, the Penn men’s tennis team was eager to celebrate both Easter and their new coach’s first Ivy win at the helm of the Quakers.
“I thought [Brown was] the second best team in the Ivy League,” a smiling Geatz said. “It was a great effort.”
With their top two players injured, the Red and Blue came back in dramatic fashion for a 4-3 victory over the Bears (14-5, 0-2 Ivy).
Against Brown, the Quakers (9-7, 1-2) lost the doubles point for the second time during the weekend, and quickly fell behind, 3-1, despite freshman Jeremy Court’s win at the No. 3 spot. Then, Penn sophomore Nikola Kocovic won the first three-set match of the afternoon, setting the stage for a thrilling finish.
With the last two matches going down to the wire, fans didn’t know which one to follow. Loud cheers erupted on one side as junior Rob Wong overcame a 4-3 deficit in the deciding set and clinched the match with an overhead smash. The 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Sam Fife tied the series at 3-3.
“Honestly, I didn’t even look at the scoreboard until I broke that game,” Wong said. “There was a lot of pressure, but it was more on [Fife] because physically he wasn’t feeling well.”
While the strong wind plagued both the Quakers and their opponents this weekend, it didn’t seem to bother Wong very much.
“It’s really hard, the ball is constantly moving but for me I’m a net player so [the wind] doesn’t affect me as much,” he said. “I guess for baseliners with the ball sitting up it’s a little tricky.”
Shortly after Wong’s upset victory, sophomore Zach Katz sealed the deal for the Red and Blue by defeating Mike Hill, 6-3, 6-7, 6-1.
“All year long all we talked about is how [toughness] beats skill and you just have to be gritty, you have to compete hard every single point,” Geatz said.
The Quakers started the weekend with a 5-2 loss to Yale (12-7, 1-1). They dropped the doubles point and the top four singles matches against the Elis.
Court and Katz were the only men to win for the Quakers on Saturday. First, they won their doubles match, 8-4, against Erik Blumenkranz and Joel Samaha. Then, they both won their respective single matches.
After Katz’s singles win narrowed the Bulldogs’ lead to 3-2, the last two matches simultaneously went into the third set. The Quakers ended up losing both, as Marc Powers and Blumenkranz got the last laugh for Yale, defeating Ivan Turudic and Sunday’s hero Wong, respectively, by the same score of 6-4.
Despite Penn’s slim chances of winning the Ivies this year after the weekend split, Geatz praised his team for their competitiveness and willingness to get better — at a time when most teams “are going down.”
“We won a couple of matches nobody ever thought we were going to win,” Geatz said. “That’s one of the best wins I’ve ever been associated with.”
The team will now turn its attention to next weekend’s doubleheader on the road against Harvard and Dartmouth.