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With Ivy play fast approaching, Penn weathered the Storm in its final tune-up for the conference season.

Despite falling behind 0-2, Penn rallied back to win 4-3 against St. John’s on Friday afternoon at the National Tennis Center in New York, adding another victory to its record.

“We lost to them last year in a close match, so we knew that it was going to be a challenge,” senior captain Hicham Laalej said. “The guys fought very hard, and it ended up being a good victory.”

No. 70 St. John’s (8-5) took a quick lead, winning the doubles point and the No. 3 singles in three hotly contested matches.

However, once freshman Nikola Kocovic put Penn on the board with a win at No. 6 singles, it was smooth sailing as the No. 64 Quakers (10-1) won three of the four remaining matches and secured a victory.

“Every single one of us were battling, and we played hard,” Laalej said. “And it’s going to be something that’s very much needed to make a difference in the Ivy League.”

The Red Storm have struggled as of late and have now dropped three consecutive matches.

However, the Johnnies hold victories over Yale, No. 71 Dartmouth and No. 53 Princeton. Thus, Penn’s win over the Red Storm — which Laalej described as of the same caliber as an Ivy opponent — may provide a much-needed confidence boost as the team starts Ivy play next week.

Last season, the Quakers amassed a solid 10-4 record before their season unraveled once Ivy play began. However, Penn hopes its victory over St. John’s — a team it lost to last season — is an indicator of improvement.

“This year we played St. John’s again, and they were as tough as they were last year, but we were able to come away with a victory,” Laalej said. “So that just tells you how things are looking much different this year.

“To be honest, I think we’re ready to go.”

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