The University of Pennsylvania men’s tennis team provided many exciting moments in 2004-05 as the Red and Blue were across the net from many talented opponents both outside of and in its League schedule. The Quakers closed out the 2004-05 season with a 14-8 overall record and a 2-5 mark in the Ivy League. The Red and Blue finished tied for fifth in the Ancient Eight standings. Penn went 2-1 at the 2004 ECAC Championships and opened the spring campaign with a 13-3 record, including seven-straight home wins.
The season began with the fall tournament schedule. The Quakers were in action at the Princeton Invitational and the Northeast Intercollegiate before heading to the ECAC Team Tennis Championships, where they were the No. 8 seed. Penn wrapped up the weekend with a 2-1 record, notching wins against Dartmouth and Yale, while falling to No. 1 seeded Harvard in the quarterfinals. After the ECAC Championship, it was on to the ITA Northeastern Regional, where Mikhail Bekker advanced to the round of 32 before falling to the No. 9 seed to wrap up the Quaker presence in the event.
To close out the fall tournament season, Penn hosted the Penn Classic in the Levy Tennis Pavilion. Bekker advanced to the final of the “A” singles flight before falling to Diego Alvarez of Manhattan, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. In the “B” singles flight, three Quakers battled through the semifinals. Joe Lok did not advance to the final, while Brandon O’Gara and Jeremy Steglitz faced off to advance. O’Gara won that battle, 6-0, 6-3, but then fell in the final. The Quakers were also impressive in their home tournament on the doubles side. It was an all Penn final, with the team of Bekker and David Lynn taking on Lok and Tas Tobias. Lok and Tobias came out on top, 8-6, to take the title.
The Red and Blue opened the spring season with a bang, winning their first seven matches of the season. A clean 7-0 sweep of UMBC in the Levy Tennis Pavilion got things started and that was followed by a 5-2 victory over St. John’s, another 7-0 sweep, this time of Swarthmore, a 4-3 win over Richmond and a 5-2 victory against St. Bonaventure. The Quakers continued their winning streak at Maryland, 5-2, and returned home for the team’s seventh-consecutive victory, this time over Rutgers, 6-1. The streak was snapped with a, 4-3, loss at Army.
It was then time to head west, as the Quakers traveled to Idaho and California for spring break. In Idaho, the team went 2-1 with victories over New Mexico, 5-2, and Utah, 4-3, before falling to host Boise State, 6-1. In California, the Red and Blue downed Loyola Marymount, 4-3, before wrapping up the trip with a, 5-2, loss at UC Irvine.
Once the team returned to Philadelphia, the wins started rolling in again. A 6-1 victory over Navy and a 7-0 sweep of Saint Joseph’s closed out the non-League schedule for the Quakers. It was then on to face Princeton to open Ivy League play. The Red and Blue took the match, 5-2, and it marked the first time that any member of the current Penn team had been on a team that defeated Princeton. Following the Princeton match, Penn hit somewhat of a stumbling block, falling at Yale, 4-3, at Brown, 4-3, and against Harvard, 4-3. The team rebounded to defeat Dartmouth, 5-2, but struggled in its last two matches, falling to Cornell, 4-3, and Columbia, also with a score of 4-3 to wrap up the season.
In addition to his success in the fall season, Bekker earned the second All-Ivy League honors of his career when he was unanimously selected to the first-team for singles. In the spring, Bekker posted a 14-8 singles mark, including a 6-1 record against Ancient Eight competition. His only loss came to fellow unanimous choice, Jonathan Chu of Harvard. Overall, Bekker had an 18-10 singles mark on the season. Bekker also teamed with Lynn throughout the season, collecting a 14-11 overall doubles mark in the No. 1 position, while putting together an 11-8 record in the spring. He also earned Academic All-Ivy League honors at the conclusion of the season.
Lynn wrapped up his collegiate career by earning second-team All-Ivy League singles honors. He advanced to the quarterfinals of the Northeast Intercollegiate in the fall and had a 7-12 overall singles record, while trading off with Bekker for the Nos. 1 and 2 positions. He also collected a 2-5 mark against Ivy League competition.
However, Bekker and Lynn were not the only Quakers to have exceptional seasons. Jimmy Fairbanks had an 11-9 overall singles record, including a 10-7 mark in the spring. He opened the spring on a tear, going 5-1 with wins over Rutgers and New Mexico. Against Ancient Eight competition, Fairbanks had a 3-4 record. His success was just not on the courts, as he was also named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District II At-Large First Team.
Todd Lecher was another senior who made an indelible impact on the team during the 2004-05 season. His win total of 22 was the highest on the team and during the spring, Lecher opened play with six-straight victories. He was 18-3 in the spring season and after one loss, rattled off eight more victories in a row. Lecher had four-consecutive victories during Ivy League play, compiling a 5-2 mark in that span. He was undefeated on the Quakers spring break trip and compiled a perfect 11-0 mark in Philadelphia during the season.
In addition to his singles prowess on the season, Lecher also teamed up with O’Gara for a six-match doubles winning streak in March. The two also had a 5-2 mark against Ivy competition. O’Gara had a 22-6 overall doubles mark in his first collegiate season and was 6-2 in singles action.
Another freshman who had a great season was Lok. He compiled an 8-4 singles mark in his first collegiate campaign, including taking his first-four dual matches. Lok recorded a 7-4 mark in doubles action and teamed with Tobias and O’Gara to win his first three doubles matches of the spring. In his first season wearing the Red and Blue, sophomore transfer Tobias picked up a 12-15 overall singles record and a 9-13 doubles mark. He went 10-11 in singles action during the spring campaign.
With the Quakers losing six seniors to graduation, Penn will rely on a strong group of letterwinners and underclassmen to lead the program to the top of the Ivy League in the coming years.
Written by Jennifer Hildebrand, athletic communications assistant