No visiting team has walked out of Penn's Hecht Tennis Center with a win this season, and this weekend, both Penn men’s and women’s tennis continued their dominance at home.
On Saturday, the women defeated Temple with a clean sweep. But things were not as easy as the scoreboard suggested.
Penn (10-3) was missing Yulia Bryzgalova, its No. 1 player, and Temple (9-4) quickly took advantage by splitting two of the three doubles matches and going up 5-1 in the third. That left senior OJ Singh, who is also a DP staffer, and sophomore Mimi Levine on the brink of losing the doubles point.
Singh and Levine, however, bounced back by winning five of the next six games to force a tiebreaker. The pair looked solid both on the baseline and near the net and kept the momentum in the tiebreaker to put the Quakers on the scoreboard first.
Temple, however, would not go down without a fight. In the six singles matches, the Owls took four first sets. But again, the Quakers were unfazed by the deficits and managed to come out on top on all six courts, completing a clean sweep despite the absence of their best player.
Overall, the match was an impressive display of the team’s depth and tenacity. Sitting on their best start in nine years, the Quakers are now eyeing the upcoming Ivy season.
“We are a very ambitious team," Singh said. “We know how we rank against the Ivy League opposition and we know that the title is ours for the taking.”
The men (16-5) took down Delaware (9-6) and Temple (5-6) in a doubleheader on Sunday.
The Quakers grabbed a 6-1 victory in the morning match against Delaware. The team took control of the doubles matches with two wins by a 6-2 score. In singles, freshmen Edoardo Graziani, Kevin Zhu, and Jonah Jurick, along with sophomores Noah Makarome and Jeff Zucker, all won in straight sets.
On the other hand, things looked a bit shaky in the afternoon match against Temple.
After winning the doubles point, the Quakers continued to find success on the singles courts, as Makarome and Jurick both handled their opponents in straight sets. Temple, however, fought back by grabbing the next three singles points to tie up the team score.
The weight of the match and Penn’s undefeated home record would then fall on the shoulders of Zhu.
The rookie had already lost his first set in a tiebreaker. He bounced back to win the second one by a score of 6-3, and when he realized that his match would become the decider, the freshman felt some pressure.
“I was really nervous,” Zhu said. “I had to hold the team above me from then on.”
Zhu lost two serving games in a row and found himself down, 5-3, in the last set. On the verge of defeat, he had to dig deep.
“I felt like I played a couple of loose points at that 3-4 game,” Zhu said. “I felt like even if I was going to lose, I couldn’t lose like that. I had to fight for every single point.”
Finding enough energy to play on in his seventh set of the day was not easy. To overcome physical exhaustion and mental tension, Zhu found support from his teammates, coaches, and the crowd.
“The adrenaline helped," Zhu said. "With all the cheering and positivity, I was able to get more energy."
With all eyes on him, the freshman went on to break in his opponent's next service game and capture the next three games in a 7-5 victory. After the comeback, the freshman could barely walk due to leg cramps, but the effort was worth it as his team continued to remain undefeated at home after a tough test.
Next up for the Quakers is the Ivy League season. The Red and Blue will face Princeton on the road on March 30 before returning to Hecht looking to extend their winning streak at home against Harvard on April 6.
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