It has been a painful month for the men's tennis team - in more ways than one.
Not only have the Quakers lost six consecutive matches, they have also suffered a litany of injuries to several top players.
The Quakers (7-7), who are hoping to reverse their fortunes and get their season back on track, will travel to Annapolis, Md. today to face Navy (12-6).
It has been a steep fall from grace for the Red and Blue, whose last victory came against Villanova on Feb. 17. The team's season had gotten off to a promising 7-1 start before the wheels started coming off - and the shoulders started aching - last month.
Searching for an explanation for his team's recent woes, Penn coach Nik DeVore didn't hesitate to place most of the blame on the injuries his team has suffered.
"[The reason for our slump] is pretty obvious," DeVore said. "I don't want to use it as an excuse, but when you're missing three of you're top six players in tennis - unlike in a team sport - it's really tough to recover."
Two key players, juniors Jonathan Boym and Justin Fox, have each been out for nearly the entire season. Boym, who previously contemplated season-ending surgery, is suffering from a torn muscle in his shoulder. He is now hoping to return for the team's Ivy League debut against Princeton on March 29.
Fox is also hoping to return to the court soon, with his return target set for March 26 against St. John's.
Losing two of its top players was troubling enough for Penn, but injuries to two more key players have proven to be too much for the squad to handle.
Senior Joseph Lok, who has global tendinitis in all parts of his elbow, has not missed a match and plans to play through the pain.
Senior Eric Riley, who plans to eventually play with a painful hip flexor, will miss today's match.
With so many veteran leaders out of the picture, the Quakers' season outlook has dimmed. Pessimism and frustration have characterized the Quakers' struggle to beat the injury bug.
"Team morale is a little bit low," Lok said.
The Quakers will rely heavily on their younger, less experienced players to step up today against Navy, whom they defeated last season, 7-0.
"Looking at their records from prior seasons . they have some results that are quite good," DeVore said.
Even in the absence of some of his veteran stars, DeVore knows that he still has one mainstay to whom he can look for steady leadership.
"Jason Pinsky is a super-talented player," he said. "He knows that we know that all it takes is one match to turn this entire season around."Comments powered by Disqus
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