Men's Tennis Enters Last Ivy Weekend with Championship in Sight

PHILADELPHIA – The Penn men’s tennis team is just one win away from clinching a share of the Ivy League title. And with two Ivy matches slated for this weekend, the Quakers are hoping they can take care of business on their home court. The Red and Blue host Cornell today at 2 p.m. on Lott Courts, before traveling to Columbia on Sunday, for a noon match-up. Today’s home match will be the last one at Penn for senior captain Mikhail Bekker.

On the Line
This weekend’s matches are about more than just bragging rights – there’s an Ivy title on the line. Penn sits in first place in the league, with a 5-0 record going into Friday’s match. But Columbia and Princeton are tied for second, with 4-1 records, meaning a possible tie for the title. Harvard and Dartmouth are tied for fourth, at 2-2, while Yale, Cornell and Brown round out the rest of the league. Columbia and Princeton will take on each other on Friday, as the Quakers host the Big Red, eliminating at least one more title contender.

With two wins this weekend, Penn would win their first outright title since 1971. The Quakers won the title last year, but had to share the honor with Brown. This year, the Red and Blue hope to earn sole possession of the title, and the automatic NCAA bid.

Last Time Out
The Quakers are coming off of a big Ivy League weekend, as they beat both Harvard and Dartmouth at home last week. Penn’s 4-3 win over Harvard was their first victory over the Crimson in 33 years. The Red and Blue followed that up with an easy 6-1 victory over Dartmouth on Saturday.

Scouting the Big Red
Cornell is 1-4 in the League, and 13-7 overall. The Big Red have been playing inconsistently, as they’ve lost to teams at the bottom of the league, but upset nationally-ranked Brown last weekend, 5-2. The Big Red won the doubles point, and earned wins at Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6 singles to beat the Bears; two of Cornell’s singles wins came in straight sets. Nick Brunner, the Big Red’s No. 1 singles player, had one of the best records in the league last year, as he went 11-2 overall, including going 5-2 at No. 2 singles, and 6-1 at No. 1 doubles.

Scouting the Lions
Columbia is Penn’s main competitor in the race for the title, as the Lions are 13-4 overall, and 4-1 in the league. Their only loss came at the hands of Harvard, who beat them 5-2. Last weekend, the Lions earned two more Ivy wins, beating both Yale and Brown by a score of 4-3. All of Columbia’s Ivy matches this season have been close, with the exception of their 6-1 win over Dartmouth. The last time Penn saw the Lions was this fall at ECACs, where the Quakers beat Columbia 4-0, to win the ECAC championship title.

Last year was the first in recent memory that Penn beat either Cornell or Columbia. In both 2004 and 2005, the Quakers fell to their New York Ivy opponents.

Against Cornell last year, Penn won 5-2 to stay on top of the Ivy League. The Quakers won the doubles point, but suffered losses by Pinsky and Boym at Nos. 1 and 3 singles. Four wins at Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 6 singles gave the Quakers the victory.

And last year’s match against the Lions was one to remember: Penn beat Columbia 5-2, to clinch a share of the Ivy League title. Sophomore Jonathan Boym cemented the win with his straight-set victory at No. 4 singles, after Penn won the doubles point, and Mikhail Bekker and Jason Pinsky notched the first two singles wins. If both Columbia and Penn win their matches today, the two teams will face off with yet another title on the line.

Friday’s match against Cornell will begin at 2 p.m. on Lott Courts, while Sunday’s match will take place at Columbia, and is slated to start at noon.