The Red and Blue came into the weekend with high expectations, but they didn't end up with the results they were looking for.
Penn men’s and women’s tennis took on Harvard and Dartmouth, and of the four matches, the only victory for the Quakers was the women’s win against the Big Green.
On Saturday, the men (16-8, 0-3 Ivy) took on a Harvard team (15-5, 2-0) that it had beaten earlier in the year at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship. This time, however, the Crimson turned things around and walked away with a 6-1 victory.
This match was quite a struggle for the Quakers. After losing the doubles point, the team saw four of the six singles matches go Harvard’s way in straight sets. Junior Max Cancilla won his first set but fell short in the next two sets.
Senior Kyle Mautner, currently ranked No. 85 nationally, grabbed Penn’s only point in his singles match. Despite losing a close first set, the senior rebounded strong, winning the second set and the super-tiebreaker.
On Sunday, the team looked much sharper but was still unable to take care of business against Dartmouth (12-6, 1-1).
The Red and Blue started the day by losing the doubles point, but Mautner again led the team with his solid performance on the top court, winning in straight sets. The rest of the team also kept the other singles matches close and took their opponents to third sets.
Senior Dmitry Shatalin and freshmen Edoardo Graziani, Kevin Zhu, and Jason Hildebrandt all rebounded in the second set after dropping the first. However, none were able to win the decisive third set. Zhu was also bothered by a hand injury throughout his match.
Cancilla, on the other hand, defeated his opponent to put a second point on the board for the Quakers. He overcame three set points in a tiebreaker to win the first set, and after losing the second set, the senior took the final frame with a clean 6-0 sweep.
This weekend marked the team’s first home losses of the season. Combined with last week’s defeat against Princeton, the Red and Blue are now on a three-game losing streak and have yet to win a match in Ivy play.
“We got a little complacent,” Cancilla said. “These matches are all close, and we were right there. We are as good as a team as we ever were, but it’s just a couple points that have to go our way from here on now.”
Next Friday, the Quakers will have a chance to redeem themselves when they host Cornell at home.
Like the men’s team, the women (12-5, 1-2) also lost to Harvard (14-6, 2-1). Despite winning the doubles point, the Red and Blue quickly dropped four singles matches to the Crimson, which gave Harvard the win.
On Sunday, however, the Quakers turned the tables and grabbed their first Ivy victory at Dartmouth (3-14, 0-3).
The Red and Blue swiftly took the doubles point by winning the first two matches played. In singles, junior Ashley Zhu and seniors Marta Kowalska and OJ Singh — who is also a DP staffer — kept the momentum going for the team. They each dominated their opponents, winning in straight sets.
Overall, the Quakers took three of the four singles points and won by a score of 4-1. After suffering two losses to start the Ivy season, the Quakers needed to bounce back on Sunday and did just that with the road win.
“We were just more focused," coach Sanela Kunovac said. "It just looked like we were better prepared both physically and mentally. It just looked like a sharper version of our team today than yesterday. I think it’s a tremendous show of character today.”
The team won’t have too much time to celebrate, however. Next Friday, the Quakers will travel to Cornell for their fourth Ivy matchup.
"It’s a very short week for us,” Kunovac said. “We just need to be a little more focused on sharpening our strength."
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