PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s tennis team (9-9, 1-4 Ivy) concludes the regular season this weekend with a pair of matches, one on the road and one at home at the Hamlin Tennis Center. Penn faces No. 47 Columbia on Friday in New York City at 2 p.m. On Sunday, the Quakers will send off their four seniors – Lucas Andreika, Jason Magnes, Mark Milbrandt and Rob Wong – with a matchup against No. 51 Cornell at home, once again with a 2 p.m. start time.
Home has been where the wins are for the Red and Blue all season. Last weekend in a pair of home matches with ranked opposition – No. 70 Dartmouth and No. 19 Harvard – the Quakers knocked off the Big Green and gave the Crimson all they could handle. In nine home matches in 2013, Penn has put together an 8-1 record with the 4-3 loss to Harvard as the only blemish.
Ismael Lahlou goes into the weekend with the most singles wins, 13, of anyone on the team this spring. The sophomore has Penn’s best singles record on the road at 5-4, and after dropping his opening home match of the season, has now won eight straight in matches played at either the Levy Tennis Pavilion or Hamlin Tennis Center. Freshman Vim De Alwis is 8-0 at home this spring and 12-4 overall. Thanks to the play of those two, as well as Zach Katz (9-8) and Blaine Willenborg (9-7), the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 positions on the singles ladder have each gone 11-7 this spring.
Columbia (13-7, 3-2 Ivy) comes into Friday’s match in third place in the Ivy League and holding onto faint hopes of a league title. The Lions are led by Winston Lin, a sophomore who is 12-6 on the year and holds a national ranking in singles of No. 67. In doubles, Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur are ranked No. 69 in the nation according to the most recent ITA release.
Cornell (13-7, 2-3 Ivy) has a very set rotation of six players in singles, with only two others playing a single match for the Big Red this spring. Venkat Iyer has filled the No. 1 position for Cornell in every match he’s competed in, and is 6-11 in the spring. Sam Fleck has gone 12-5 at No. 2, while Jason Luu leads the team with a 16-2 record this spring, 13 of those matches coming at No. 5. In doubles, Iyer will likely team with Alex Sidney at No. 1 where the duo has gone 10-6. Luu and Quoc-Daniel Nguyen are 13-3 at No. 2 doubles, while Fleck and Kyle Berman are 12-1 at No. 3.
The Series with Columbia
Overall: Tied, 46-46-1
First Meeting: The teams tied, 3-3, in 1912
Last Meeting: Columbia won, 7-0, in Penn’s home finale last season
Last Penn Win: Penn won twice in the 2006 season, downing the Lions 5-2 in the Ivy League matchup between the teams and also claiming a 4-0 decision at the ECAC Championship.
Notables: Columbia has won seven straight in the series between the two programs … In 2007, the Lions defeated the Quakers, 4-1, in a playoff for the automatic Ivy League NCAA Tournament berth … Jeremy Court entered last season’s meeting with a 6-0 record in the Ivy League in singles. After defeating Haig Schneiderman (since graduated) in the first set, 6-2, Schneiderman rebounded to win the second set 7-5 and the super-tiebreaker, 10-8. Court settled for a 6-1 Ivy League mark on his way to second-team All-Ivy honors.
The Series with Cornell
Overall: Penn leads, 43-33-1
First Meeting: Cornell won, 5-1, in 1912
Last Meeting: Last season, Cornell claimed a 5-2 win in Ithaca
Last Penn Win: Penn downed Cornell by a 4-3 score at the 2009 ECAC Championships. The last win in an Ivy League match came in the 2007 season, 6-1.
Notables: Cornell has won four straight in the series, the first of which came with current Penn Head Coach David Geatz at the helm of the Big Red … The doubles team of Nikola Kocovic and Milbrandt won at No. 1 doubles in this matchup a year ago … Court played at No. 1 in singles for the first time in his career against the Big Red in 2012, knocking off Venkat Iyer, 7-5, 6-7(6), 10-7.