With their eyes toward the future, senior co-captain Hicham Laalej and the men’s tennis team opened their spring season this weekend against Drexel and Villanova.
Winning 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 singles, Laalej led Penn to a 6-1 victory over Drexel Saturday, despite still trying to find his form after sitting out all of last season.
“This was a good opportunity for me to try different things on the courts — serves, backspin choices, technical changes … All of these matches early in the season are just a way for us to prepare for the Ivy season, which is the most important thing.”
Penn won the doubles point and five out of six singles matches.
Later that afternoon, the Quakers dominated Villanova in the second match, 7-0. In an artful performance, freshman Ivan Turudic defeated his opponent 6-0, 6-0. Despite the frustrated outbursts from his opponent Rafael Santiago, Turudic executed his game plan and never let the Villanova junior find a rhythm.
“I realized that if I stay focused, I’ll be on the court for a shorter amount of time,” Turudic said.
In order to prepare for these two matches as well as the upcoming Ivy matchups, the Quakers practiced this week on tactical adjustments and playing with emotion.
“Last week, we did a lot of drilling and specific exercises,” Turudic said. “[This week] we emphasized point play … which I believe is most important going into matches.”
Coach Nik DeVore was particularly pleased by his team’s energy and thinks a developing team chemistry will be beneficial going forward.
“We were stressing team unity. We are trying to come together as a group. [We wanted] good energy, especially in the doubles leading into the singles. When you get down early, it’s hard to come back.”
But this weekend for the Quakers, there were few instances in which they were playing from behind.
With Temple next on the schedule, DeVore is excited to see what his team can learn from these two matches.
“Temple is a step up from both of these teams,” he said. “We would be considered the best team in the city based on past results, and then it’s Temple, and they are challenging.
“Each match we are just trying to improve, and each match progressively gets tougher. We’re taking baby steps.”Comments powered by Disqus
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