For much of the fall season, it's been the same story for the Penn men's tennis team. The talent is there. The motivation is there. But the results are not. The Quakers extended their disappointing spiral last week at the ITA Eastern Regional Championships. With three seeded players in the tournament, expectations were high. However, all four Penn players had early exits in Blacksburg, Va. Penn junior Brian Barki lost a lopsided match in the first round, winning the second set, 6-1, before dropping the third set, 6-2. He was soon followed out of the tournament by Quakers co-captain Eric Sobotka and junior Fanda Stejskal, the Red and Blue's No. 1 singles player. Both lost tough three-set matches after first-round byes. Stejskal actually had a 6-3, 4-2 lead in his match before succumbing to Brown's Ben Brier. Meanwhile, Penn sophomore Ryan Harwood, the tournament's 11th seed, soundly defeated his second-round opponent, but could not sustain his high level of play. He proceeded to drop his next match, 7-5,6-4, to Brown's Jamie Cerrentani. "Everyone was pretty disappointed with their results," Harwod said. "I had the best result, which doesn't say anything at all. [Against Cerrentani], I was up early, really dominating, and then, once again, I had a mental let-up. I've never had a problem with that before." Stejskal echoed Harwood's sentiments. "We have trouble closing out matches," Stejskal said. "You miss a couple of points and the other player has some good ones.... When a little goes wrong, it just keeps accumulating." The Red and Blue's results at Regionals are a fitting ending to a fall season that has unfolded much the same way. The Quakers started the season strongly, with a solid showing at the Princeton Invitational. But their early momentum was soon halted by disappointing showings at the ECAC Tournament and the Penn Classic. "It's not encouraging to start off well and decline," Penn co-captain Rob Pringle said. "Playing well at the Princeton Invitational shows we have the potential. Whether or not we capitalize on that, we'll see." After their unfulfilling showing at Regionals, the Red and Blue are disappointed, but not discouraged. In fact, their decline at the end of the fall season has provided further motivation for a strong spring campaign. The overall belief among the Quakers is that they will capitalize on their talent in the upcoming spring season. They have a full two months to improve their games and to find their focus. "The spring is the deal -- what it's all about," Stejskal said. "It's way more intense. It's a chance to get some pride for the team and to come back and prove ourselves. We're all pumped."Comments powered by Disqus
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