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It’s rare that the cover athlete lives up to the hype.

Saturday’s feature on the Penn tennis team’s program, junior Phil Law, was in danger of suffering that fate, as he found himself down two match points. As another frustrating point came to an end, he yelled, “Why is this happening today!”

That irritation seemed to echo the sentiment of the whole Penn tennis squad at times. Maryland-Baltimore County pushed the Quakers to the brink before Penn prevailed, 5-2.

Coach Nik DeVore billed the Retrievers as a “team of fighters who’ve had some impressive results.”

Before the match, DeVore switched No. 2 Turudic with No. 3 Law as he wanted to “give Phil a tougher match so he’s ready for spring break.”

This proved to be a major decision, as Turudic went down with a triceps injury and was unable to finish the match.

With Law down a set and at double match point, the Retrievers (6-3) had Penn wondering if it would suffer its first loss of the year. At the same time, one court over, freshman Nikola Kocovic seemed to be handling his UMBC opponent.

Law turned to his left and watched Penn’s early grasp begin to slip away as Kocovic dropped his second set and trailed in the third.

Law then proceeded to fall behind, 5-3. At double match point the tension in the building spiked. The junior managed to dig down and rally back to break UMBC’s Joseph Adewumi and save his match.

“I felt like if I could just hang in there a little bit longer, things would go my way,” Law said.

The break swung the momentum back in Penn’s favor as Kocovic rallied to clinch his match and the overall win for Penn.

“I just wanted to extend the match to keep the pressure off Nikola,” Law said. “That’s a key part of college tennis.”

“We always expect Phil to bounce back,” DeVore added.

Before the drama of Law’s and Kocovic’s matches, Penn stormed out of the gate against the underdog Retrievers with a doubles sweep. Penn’s freshmen team of Ivan Turudic and Zach Katz opened the scoring with a comfortable 8-4 win.

The Retrievers hung tough though, pushing senior captain Hicham Laalej and sophomore Mark Milbrandt to the edge before falling to the Red and Blue, 8-6. Senior Zach Gorn and Kocovic capped the sweep with another tough 8-6 win.

Laalej took care of business in his singles match, easily defeating Christian Hodel.

When asked if the resilient comeback is a sign that the Quakers are ready for Ivy play, DeVore responded, “No — not yet.”

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