PHILADELPHIA - The energy and intensity was high at the Lott Tennis Courts in a match that lasted four in a half hours as the Quakers, playing in their first outdoor home match of the season, had the victory in their grasp against Harvard before falling to the Crimson 5-2 on Saturday.
Harvard's (13-8, 2-1) victory at the No. 1 singles spot proved to be the clincher for the Crimson on Saturday. Senior captain Hicham Laalej seemed to be cruising after claiming the first set 6-2, but Harvard's Jonathan Pearlman made it a match in the second set. After multiple breaks of serve, the Crimson held on to win the set 7-5. In the third set, Laalej held his serve in the first game to go up 1-0, but Pearlman won the next five to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Serving for the match, Laalej broke Pearlman and then held his own serve to make the score 5-3. Unfortunately, Laalej's comeback fell short, losing 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, and giving the opposition the 4-2 lead.
The day started out promising for the Quakers (12-4, 1-3) as they came out and swept all three doubles matches to capture the doubles point. At No. 1, the tandem of Laalej and junior Eugen Brazdil handled their opponents easily 8-4. Meanwhile, both the No. 2 and No. 3 spots were closer and hard-fought. The freshman duo of Zach Katz and Ivan Turudic pulled out the 9-7 victory at No. 2 doubles to improve to 19-5 together on the entire season. The No. 3 doubles match needed a tiebreak to decide the winner, but Nikola Kocovic and Mark Milbrandt were able to prevail 13-11 in the tiebreak, giving Penn the doubles sweep.
Turudic could not carry the momentum from his doubles victory into his singles match as he was defeated by senior Aba Omodele-Lucien in identical 6-4, 6-4 sets at the No. 2 singles position. Harvard took a 2-1 lead in the team score after freshman Casey MacMaster handed Kocovic his first Ivy lost of the season, 6-4, 7-5, in No. 4 singles.
Penn came back to tie the team score at 2-2 with junior Phil Law's solid performance at No. 3 singles. He was able to take care of Harvard's Alistair Felton 6-3, 6-4, in what would be Penn's lone singles victory of the day.
At No. 5 singles, fellow junior Jason Lin found himself in a hotly contested battle. Lin won the first set 6-4 and was up early in the second set. However, sophomore Andy Nguyen came back in the second set to win by the same 6-4 score. Nguyen carried the momentum into the third set and pushed Lin to the brink at 5-2. The junior fought back and won the next two games to make it 5-4 before ultimately falling 6-4.
Sophomore Jason Magnes started off slow at No. 6 singles, losing the first set quickly, 6-0, to Joshua Tchan. In the second set, Magnes was out to a 4-0 lead and the match looked to be heading into a third set, but Tchan fought back to win 6-0, 6-4, sealing the 5-2 victory for Harvard.
The Quakers look to put the loss behind them as they face Dartmouth Sunday at noon. Weather permitting, the match will also be held outside at the Lott Tennis Courts.
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3
1. Laalej/Eugen Brazdil (P) def. Omodele-Lucien/MacMaster (H), 8-4
2. Zach Katz/Turudic (P) def. Pearlman/Tchan (H), 9-7
3. Kocovic/Mark Milbrandt (P) def. Felton/Nguyen (H), 9-8(13-11)
Order of Finish: 2, 4, 3, 5, 1, 6
1. Jonathan Pearlman (H) def. Hicham Laalej (P), 2-6, 7-5, 6-3
2. Aba Omodele-Lucien (H) def. Ivan Turudic (P), 6-4, 6-4
3. Phil Law (P) def. Alistair Felton (H), 6-3, 6-4
4. Casey MacMaster (H) def. Nikola Kocovic (P), 6-4, 7-5
5. Andy Nguyen (H) def. Jason Lin (P), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
6. Joshua Tchan (H) def. Jason Magnes (P), 6-0, 6-4