The Penn men's tennis team has not had it easy since the departure of coach Gordie Ernst before the start of the fall season. For a month, it was up to team captains Rob Pringle and Eric Sobotka to hold the team together. The ECAC Invitational, held this past weekend at Harvard, marked the Quakers' first match with newly hired coach Mark Riley, and things didn't get any easier in Cambridge. As the seventh seed, the Quakers expected to do well at the tournament. However, after dropping a close first match, 3-4, to 10th-seeded Army, the Red and Blue lost their morale. According to Penn sophomore Ryan Harwood, after the tough loss, "the mood for the weekend was kind of shot." The Quakers' new coach still found some positives in the loss to the Cadets. "[The loss] was difficult, because it was a match we thought we should have had, but it was hard fought and went down to the end," Riley said. "Four out of the six singles matches were decided in third set tie-breakers, and we had match points in three out of these four matches." The Quakers followed the loss to Army by confidently downing Colgate, 6-1. Penn, however, couldn't gain any momentum with the win over the Red Raiders. They proceeded to lose to Rutgers 5-2 on Sunday. "The team was a little drained from the Army match," Riley said. "And that carried over to the Rutgers match." Despite their disappointment over play at the ECACs, the Quakers acknowledge that the fall is really just a prelude to their main season in the spring. They know that they need to improve as the year progresses. The members of the Red and Blue also recognize that the addition of Riley as mentor will help them get back on the path to success in the Ivy League. "The lack of a coach caught up with us this weekend. We can't sustain the kind of level we are trying to sustain without a coach," Pringle said. A positive outlook is essential for the rest of the season. "We'll train hard, and we'll do well and be ready to work as a team in the spring," Harwood said. "We stumbled a little [at the ECACs], but that's allowed." "We have nowhere to go but up," Riley said. "I think the guys are looking forward to improving this fall and into next spring. And I'm looking forward to getting to know them."Comments powered by Disqus
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