PHILADELPHIA - After being swept in doubles, the men's tennis team staged an epic comeback to upset No. 54 Brown, 4-3, earning its first win in the Ivy League Sunday afternoon at the Hamlin Tennis Center. Penn is now 9-7 overall and 1-2 in the Ancient Eight while Brown falls to 14-5 and 0-2 in the conference.
Playing in similarly windy conditions to yesterday, the Quakers did not get off to a good start, losing all three doubles matches. Sophomores Nikola Kocovic and Ivan Turudic were actually up in their match at No. 1, 6-3, before the Brown pair of fellow sophomores Brandon Burke and Soufiane Azargui won the next five games to take it, 8-6. At No. 3, freshman Jeremy Court and Zach Katz had the lead at 7-6 and were serving for the match, but their opponents were able to break to tie it at 7-7. With the doubles point already decided, they played a tiebreaker and the Penn duo fell 8-7(4) for their first loss together in the Ivy League.
With everyone moving up a spot in singles, it seemed an improbable task to come back from a 0-1 hole, but the team stepped up to the challenge. Court, playing at No. 3 singles, once again was the first player to get on the board for the Quakers. In the first set, he jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead before his opponent, Michael Riechmann, broke back. It was on serve from there, needing a tiebreak to settle it, where Court won 7-5. In the second set, he got an early break again and was able to hold on to gain the 7-6(5), 6-4 victory for his seventh in a row. The freshman improves to 19-5 overall, and is the only Quaker to be undefeated so far against Ancient Eight opponents (3-0).
However, Brown increased its lead to 3-1 after Daniel Hirschberg defeated junior Jason Magnes at the No. 6 position. Magnes, seeing match action for the first time since spring break, was rusty in the first set, getting blanked 6-0. However, he fought back in the second set and was up a break, 4-3, before Hirschberg won the next three to win 6-0, 6-4.
The Bears just needed one of the remaining three matches to take the match from Penn. Playing for only the second time at No. 1 singles, Kocovic led the comeback campaign for the Quakers. He and Azargui split the first two sets by matching 6-4 scores. In the third set, Kocovic broke Azargui in the opening game, and never looking back from there, triumphing 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Penn was now only down 3-2 and just as yesterday it came down to two three-setters; junior Rob Wong at No. 4 and Katz at No. 5. It was back-and-forth between the two courts and the pressure was on. Katz rallied himself after getting the chance to serve for the match at 5-4 in the second set and then falling in the tiebreaker, 7-2. In the third, he was able to get a break to go up 4-1 and seemed to be in a good spot to close out the match.
Meanwhile, Wong was in an intense battle with his Brown opponent, Sam Fife. Wong was down a break, but got two straight breaks to go up 5-4. Serving for the match, Wong came back from a 0-30 deficit to win four straight points to prevail 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 and tie the team score at 3-3.
Just moments after, Katz cruised 6-1 in his respective third set to give Penn the 4-3 victory over Brown.
The Quakers hope to continue the momentum next week as they visit No. 20 Harvard on Saturday and No. 67 Dartmouth on Sunday.
Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3
1. Brandon Burke/Azargui (B) def. Turudic/Kocovic (P), 8-6
2. Riechmann/Tom Deighton (B) def. Wong/Jason Lin (P), 8-4
3. Spector/Fife (B) def. Court/Katz (P), 8-7(4)
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 6, 1, 4, 5
1. Nikola Kocovic (P) def. Soufiane Azargui (B), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
2. William Spector (B) def. Phil Law (P), 6-0, 6-1
3. Jeremy Court (P) def. Michael Riechmann (B), 7-6(5), 6-4
4. Rob Wong (P) def. Sam Fife (B), 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
5. Zach Katz (P) def. Mike Hill (B), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-1
6. Daniel Hirschberg (B) def. Jason Magnes (P), 6-0, 6-4