It’s all in the recovery.
That was the theme for Penn men’s tennis coming out of the first day of play of the ECAC Indoor Tennis Championships at Princeton. After suffering a 4-1 loss to Dartmouth, the Quakers (6-4) rallied back for the next day, recording a win by the same scoreline against St. John’s at the Lenz Tennis Center.
The Red and Blue came into the indoor conference championships seeded fourth against the Big Green, the tournament's fifth seed; from a numbers perspective, it was scheduled to be the most difficult first-round matchup on Friday.
The Quakers were forced to play catch-up from the start as they dropped their first doubles point of the weekend, losing at first and third doubles. With a loss to Dartmouth’s freshman-junior paining of Charlie Broom and Ciro Riccardi, junior Josh Pompan and senior Thomas Spratt lost their streak of seven wins to start off the season.
The Red and Blue were unable to pull back the momentum in the singles rubbers. Only sophomore Kyle Mautner was able to win a match for the Quakers against the Big Green, beating Ricciardi in two 6-4 sets. A tough 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 loss by junior Gabe Rappaport to Dartmouth senior George Wall failed to extend the tie, securing a 4-1 loss for Penn with three unfinished matches on the day.
With the loss to the Big Green, Penn was mathematically out of contention for the indoor conference title. Still, Penn had to rally back to ensure themselves the best finish possible.
Rally they did.
Less than 24 hours after falling to Dartmouth, a determined Penn team returned for their second consecutive 9 a.m. match looking very sharp and prepped to face off against St. John’s. And the result was starkly improved.
While Penn started slowly in their opening doubles matches against Dartmouth, they were more decisive in their shot making against the Thunderbirds winning their doubles matches with identical 6-2 sets.
The only constant among the two days was No. 61 ranked Mautner. Following up his straight sets win from Friday, the lefty won his eighth match of the season in yet another straight sets effort, this time coming in the form of a 6-1, 7-5 win over Robert Livi.
But Mautner’s effort was more than matched by his teammates against St. John’s. Spratt followed up a strong performance in the doubles, though the match was unfinished, with an impressive 7-6, 6-3 win at No. 6 singles. Freshman Matt Nardella followed up a win in doubles with Mautner with a solid 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 3 singles. Pompan was the other player to record strong double duty effort, winning his doubles match and securing the first set of his singles match before the Quakers secured the 4-1 win.
The Red and Blue’s momentum from the second day propelled them into the fourth day, securing a 4-2 win against Harvard, securing them a fifth-place finish in the tournament. The Quakers secured two tiebreak wins at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles. The doubles pairing of Mautner and Nardella clinched a 12-10 extended tiebreak to win the doubles point for Penn. In a late-night finish, Mautner continued his run with an impressive 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 over sophomore Crimson Kenny Tao to secure the top-five finish for the Red and Blue.
Penn’s fifth-place finish was a mark of resilience for the team after an uninspiring opening to the weekend. The team takes the strength of this momentum swing into next weekend’s non-conference tilt against Old Dominion.