On a weekend featuring back-to-back games, the Penn men’s tennis team looked to kick off its spring season with victories over two quality opponents.
Facing in-state rival Penn State on Saturday, the Quakers hung tough, yet could not win enough big points to steal a road victory.
After being swept in all three doubles matches, the Red and Blue’s only singles match win came from sophomore Jeremy Court.
Although the end result was a 6-1 defeat, the contest was much closer than the score indicated.
Junior Nikola Kocovic, sophomore Ismael Lahlou and freshman Vim De Alwis each lost their respective singles matches by the end score of 6-4, 6-4.
“Overall it was a really good weekend,” Kocovic said. “Obviously, we lost a tough one yesterday but we were in a lot of the matches.”
Of the six total singles matches, only Court was able to break through for the Quakers. At No. 2, the sophomore defeated Penn State’s Roman Trkulja, 6-1, 7-5.
It was the first time the Quakers and Nittany Lions faced off since 2006. Including Saturday’s matchup, Penn leads the all-time series, 36-13.
Against Penn State, the Quakers dropped all three doubles matches by a combined score of 24-6. Coming into Sunday’s match against Buffalo, assistant coach Ty Schaub knew the doubles matches would have set the tone for a better performance.
“We spend a lot of time in practice on doubles every single day,” Schaub said. “It was a little discouraging yesterday getting beaten so badly in doubles.
“The whole time [after the Penn State matches] we just talked about coming out with better energy and doing the basics right in doubles.”
Against Buffalo, the Quakers got off to a hot start, capturing the first two double matches to clinch the opening point.
Penn then dominated the singles matches, winning five out of six to secure the 6-1 victory.
Kocovic, De Alwis and freshman Blaine Willenborg all won in straight sets on Sunday. Meanwhile, Court picked up a straight-sets victory for the second consecutive day.
After the bout, it was clear that the team had learned a lot from its first two matches of the season.
“We can take away more from the Penn State loss [on Saturday] than we can from the Buffalo win just because it gives us things to work on,” Schaub said.
For Court, two early-season victories have given the sophomore confidence going forward.
“It’s definitely good at the beginning of the season to get a few wins and get some confidence,” Court said. “I’ve been playing pretty well in singles, and hopefully I can keep it going.
“To start out with two wins is definitely good for my confidence. As a team, we just have to keep working hard in practice and hopefully we’ll keep it rolling for the rest of the year.”
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