PHILADELPHIA - The men's tennis team fought valiantly but fell short in its Ivy League opener on Saturday at the Levy Tennis Pavilion, suffering a 4-3 defeat to Princeton. Penn (8-6, 0-1 Ivy) jumped out to leads of 1-0 and 3-1 but couldn't hold on, as Princeton won for the fifth year in a row over the Quakers.
Penn got back to its winning ways in doubles after falling to St. John's earlier this week, taking the early edge on the Tigers in dramatic fashion. It was a harbinger of things to come that the deciding match would need a tiebreaker to decide the winner. Jeremy Court and Zach Katz won five consecutive games after trailing 4-3 to give the Red and Blue the win at No. 3. After Princeton tied it at No.2 doubles, the Quaker team of Nikola Kocovic and Ivan Turudic outlasted Matt Siow and Matt Spindler, 9-8(7) to put the Red and Blue ahead, 1-0.
As the match shifted gears into singles, things looked good for Penn early on, as four Quakers won their first set. The first match to finish was at No. 1 where a rested Matija Pecotic of Princeton, who didn't compete in doubles, defeated Turudic by scores of 6-2 and 6-1 to square the match at a point apiece. Penn responded back in short order as Court and Phil Law turned in straight set victories of their own as the Quakers momentarily gained control at 3-1.
After Rob Wong was defeated at No. 4 singles, the focus moved to Kocovic and Katz, who were both engaged in three-set struggles. Though Kocovic led 3-1 in the third set, the advantage slipped away and Spindler was able to come away with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory to tie the proceedings at 3-3. Meanwhile, Katz and Siow see-sawed through the first two sets and into the third with neither able to put the other away. Siow went up a break early on in the third set only to see Katz break right back to tie, and the two continued to hold serve from that point on, sending the match into a do-or-die tiebreaker. Katz stormed out of the gate and led Siow 5-2 with the ball in his hand to serve, but Siow rallied to score five straight, giving Princeton the 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) victory.
Penn returns to the courts next weekend, hosting Yale and Brown at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Both matches will be outdoors at the Hamlin Tennis Center if conditions allow.
1. Nikola Kocovic/Ivan Turudic (Penn) def. Matt Siow/Matt Spindler (Princeton), 9-8(7)
2. Augie Bloom/Dan Davies (Princeton) def. Jason Lin/Rob Wong (Penn), 8-4
3. Jeremy Court/Zach Katz (Penn) def. Michael Lin/Yohei Shoji (Princeton), 8-4
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. Matija Pecotic (Princeton) def. Turudic (Penn), 6-2, 6-1
2. Spindler (Princeton) def. Kocovic (Penn), 1-6, 6-3, 6-3
3. Phil Law (Penn) def. Bloom (Princeton), 6-3, 6-3
4. Dan Richardson (Princeton) def. Wong (Penn), 6-3, 7-5
5. Court (Penn) def. Zack McCourt (Princeton), 7-5, 6-3
6. Siow (Princeton) def. Katz (Penn), 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5)
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 5, 4, 2, 6