PHILADELPHIA - The Penn men's tennis team was given possibly its most daunting task of the spring season on Wednesday, hosting #58 St. John's in the first official men's competition to be held at the Hamlin Tennis Center. Though the Red Storm left with a 5-2 win, the prospects appear good for the Quakers as they move into the Ivy League portion of their schedule.
St. John's took the match to Penn in the opening doubles matches, winning all three to claim a 1-0 lead. The loss snapped a five-match win streak for the Quakers in doubles.
The Red Storm continued to overpower Penn early on in singles, as they won five out of six first sets. Only freshman Jeremy Court managed a 1-0 lead, as he broke Stefan Bojic late to earn a 7-5 win.
The Quakers began to get their legs under them as the day progressed. Nikola Kocovic and Zach Katz each forced their matches into a super-tiebreaker with second set victories. At #1 singles, Ivan Turudic went toe-to-toe with SJU's #1 Milo Hauk, but came up just short in both sets, falling 4-6, 5-7.
Though St. John's raced out to a 4-0 lead and had the match won, three matches were left to be decided. Playing #2 singles against Vasko Mladenov (#58 in the nation according to the most recent ITA rankings), Kocovic moved into the third set after a dominating 6-2 win in his second set. Mladenov eventually claimed the tiebreaker with a late flurry, 10-6.
Court and Katz put Penn on the board at the tail end of the afternoon. With Court ahead a set and leading 4-3 in the second, St. John's Bojic retired, giving the point to the Red and Blue. Katz ended the day on a high note, coming back in dramatic fashion to win 1-6, 7-6(5), 10-7.
Penn begins Ivy League action with its first three matches at home. The first happens this Saturday at 2 p.m. as rival Princeton makes the quick jaunt into the city. Weather permitting, each of Penn's remaining home matches will be played outdoors at the Hamlin Tennis Center.
1. Milo Hauk/Ilija Vucic (SJ) def. Nikola Kocovic/Ivan Turudic (Penn), 8-5
2. Vasko Mladenov/Matty Najfeld (SJ) def. Jason Lin/Rob Wong (Penn), 8-4
3. Valentin Mihai/Stefan Bojic (SJ) def. Jeremy Court/Zach Katz (Penn), 8-4
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3
1. Hauk (SJ) def. Turudic (Penn), 6-4, 7-5
2. Mladenov (SJ) def. Kocovic (Penn), 6-4, 2-6, 10-6
3. Vucic (SJ) def. Phil Law (Penn), 6-0, 6-1
4. Court (Penn) def. Bojic (SJ), 7-5, 4-3 (ret.)
5. Mike Lampa (SJ) def. Lin (Penn), 6-1, 6-3
6. Katz (Penn) def. Najfeld (SJ), 1-6, 7-6(5), 10-7
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 5, 2, 4, 6