PHILADELPHIA - It took a total team effort from the men's tennis squad on Saturday afternoon to defeat the visiting Buffalo Bulls by a score of 4-3. Despite losses at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 singles, the Quakers were lifted to victory thanks to strong showings out of some of the more unheralded members of their team, as well as a pair of clutch victories in doubles.
Taking the doubles point for the third match in a row, Penn responded to a couple of late Buffalo challenges to sweep to a 1-0 lead. Zach Katz and Jeremy Court gave Penn the quick advantage at No. 3 with an 8-6 win, then Mark Milbrandt and Rob Wong were able to hold on for a 9-7 win after leading 7-2. With the outcome of the point decided, the No. 1 match went to a tiebreak, with Ivan Turudic and Nikola Kocovic coming out on top by a score of 8-7(5).
That doubles point would prove crucial later on in the afternoon. Senior captain Phil Law played a near-flawless match in ousting Buffalo's Alex Kalinin at No. 4, 6-0 and 6-1, staking the Quakers to a 2-0 lead, but things would tighten up from that point on. Buffalo got on the board at No. 2 singles as Vusa Hove knocked off Kocovic, 6-4, 6-4. With the Bulls playing well in both the Nos. 1 and 3 singles matches, the weight suddenly fell on Court and Jason Lin to pick up their teammates. Playing on the back courts of Levy Pavilion, the pair finished moments apart and with similar results. Lin knocked off Yevgeniy Jason Shkodnik, 6-4, 6-0 to make it 3-1 in favor of Penn, and Court put the nail in the coffin with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Jason Simon.
Although the winner was decided, Buffalo battled to the end. Damien David frustrated Turudic at No. 1 singles and made the score 4-2 with his 7-5, 6-3 victory. The last match, between UB's Wojciech Starakiewicz and Penn's Rob Wong, tested the stamina of each as it went the distance. After dropping the first set 6-4, Starakiewicz was solid in rallying to take the second set 7-6(2), and the third set tiebreak, 10-7.
Penn begins its spring break trip next Saturday at UMBC at 11 a.m. From there, the Red and Blue make a week-long swing through Florida, facing Stetson, Florida Southern, USF and Florida Gulf Coast.
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. Turudic/Kocovic (P) def. Starakiewicz/Hove (B), 8-7(5)
2. Milbrandt/Wong (P) def. David/Zappia (B), 9-7
3. Katz/Court (P) def. Shkodnik/Kalinin (B), 8-6
Order of Finish: 4, 2, 6, 5, 1, 3
1. David (B) def. Turudic (P), 7-5, 6-3
2. Hove (B) def. Kocovic (P), 6-4, 6-4
3. Starakiewicz (B) def. Wong (P), 4-6, 7-6(2), 10-7
4. Law (P) def. Kalinin (B), 6-0, 6-1
5. Court (P) def. Simon (B), 6-3, 6-3
6. Lin (P) def. Shkodnik (B), 6-4, 6-0