It was a mixed bag for Penn tennis in the first Ivy weekend of the season.
The men's team is red hot right now, winning its fifth straight match and ninth straight home match in a row. The Quakers soared to victory, crushing Ivy-League rival Princeton 6-1 at home. On the women's side, Penn struggled, falling to the Tigers on the road 2-5.
This match was Penn’s first regular season Ivy League competition of the year, and the result a great sign for the near and extended future.
For the Ivy League rivalry, the men's victory was huge for the Quakers (12-9, 1-0 Ivy), who were defeated 4-3 each of the last two seasons by the Tigers (15-8, 0-1).
Juniors Dmitry Shatalin and Kyle Mautner set the tone early with an important doubles match victory. The rest of the doubles teams followed suit, leading to a sweep in doubles for the Quakers.
Penn’s top single's seed Mautner won in straight sets. Senior Josh Pompan and sophomore Max Cancilla had great days too, winning in straight sets as well.
The most exciting match of the day was arguably Shatalin’s tremendous comeback. After falling in the opening set in a tiebreaker, Shatalin won the final two sets, 6-4 and 6-3.
The Quakers' only loss of the day came from court six, where freshman Noah Makarome was taken down by the Tigers.
The victory gives the Quakers excellent momentum heading into a long stretch of conference play. On Friday, the Quakers visit the Big Apple to take on Columbia, followed by a trip to Ithaca to face the Big Red.
The Quakers then have a home stretch hosting Brown and Yale. Home-field advantage has been crucial for Penn this season. The Quakers are 9-1 at home compared to 1-6 on the road and 2-2 on neutral territory.
On the women's side, the Red and Blue (7-9, 0-1) were coming off a close 4-3 victory against St. John’s but could not extend momentum into the first regular season conference match of the season.
The two main bright spots for the Quakers were junior Marta Kowalska, who continued her excellent play, winning in straight sets 6-1, 6-1, and freshman Jimena Rodriguez-Benito, who won a third set super tiebreak on court four.
Despite Kowalska’s early victory, the Tigers bounced back strongly with four straight wins to lead to their 5-2 victory. Princeton is now a remarkable 12-1 at home this season.
The Quakers will look to bounce back on the road against Columbia Friday and then at home against Cornell two days later. The team has plenty of matches to make up for the initial conference loss. Coach Sanela Kunovac will look to motivate her team to move past the loss in preparation for the rest of Ivy play.