It wasn’t the end the Quakers were looking for.
Over the weekend, Penn men’s tennis closed out its season with three matches over three days, losing to Columbia at home, and then beating Binghamton and losing to Cornell on the road.
While their 2-5 league record marks a one-game improvement from last season, it’s not what the Red and Blue had expected, nor what they had hoped for after starting off 2-0, a start which included a win over Princeton.
“I didn’t think we played worse as the year went on, in fact in some ways I thought we played a little bit better toward the end,” coach David Geatz said.
“The competition was a little better at the end. We played the two best teams in the Ivy League [Columbia and Harvard] at the end of the year,” he added.
On Friday, Penn ran into one of those teams: No. 19 Columbia, a behemoth which was on a 16-match win streak and which had dropped just one point in league play going into the match. The Lions routed the Red and Blue, 4-0, yielding only one set in total — to freshman Matt Nardella . Columbia went on to win its 11th Ivy League title — and its first since 2010 — over the weekend, as it finished undefeated in league play.
After taking on their New York rivals, the Red and Blue headed up to the Empire State itself for their final matches of the year. Saturday was a more successful day for the Quakers, as they dropped Binghamton for the second straight year, taking the two through five-spot singles matches to win, 5-2. Penn finished 5-9 in nonconference play.
No. 52 Cornell represented Penn’s final chance to finish with its best Ivy League record since the 2007-08 season, a feat it missed narrowly, losing 4-3. Penn took three singles matches on the backs of senior Zach Katz, sophomore Vim de Alwis and Nardella, the last of whom picked up his 13th win of the year. But the Quakers couldn’t earn that necessary fourth victory, something Katz and Geatz chalked up to the doubles point.
For the three seniors on the team — Katz, Nikola Kocovic and Andrew Berman — Sunday marked their last day of Ivy League tennis.
“[It’s] bittersweet,” Katz said. “I’m definitely going to miss it. It’s not the way you ever want to stop playing the sport you’ve been playing since you were four years old, but I’m happy to turn a new chapter.”
Geatz praised the outgoing seniors, stopping especially to single out one of his co-captains, Katz.
“Zach Katz is the best player in the Ivy League,” he said, noting that Katz didn’t drop a match in conference play.
“There’s a lot more pressure, a lot more intensity, every match is so close and I think having played for four years, you just get a lot more comfortable, and then the confidence that comes with that [helps],” Katz said of his performance in conference matches.
While the five-game skid to end Ivy play left Penn with a bitter taste, with just three outgoing players, a strong incoming recruiting class and some players returning from injuries next year — including Ismael Lahlou, who filled the No. 3 singles spot last year — the Red and Blue have something to look forward to.
“With good recruiting classes, coach Geatz and coach [Ty] Schaub will definitely have a nationally ranked program soon,” Katz said.Comments powered by Disqus
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