Men's Tennis in Search of an Ivy League Title in 2006

Some things to think about as the Quakers look forward to 2006 ...

• Penn lost six seniors, including co-captains Craig Rubin and David Lynn.

• The Quakers won the ECAC Championship in Oct. 2005. They upset No. 1 seeded Penn State in the semifinal and No. 2 seeded Brown in the final.

• The Quakers are ranked No. 49 nationally in the Fila College Tennis Rankings.

• Mikhail Bekker, Jimmy Fairbanks and Tas Tobias won at least 10 matches last spring.

• Bekker, Fairbanks, Joseph Lok and Brandon O'Gara all had winning records last spring and won at least three matches.

• Bekker went 6-1 last spring in the Ivy League.

• In the fall, he went 8-2, including four wins at the ECAC Championships.

• Transfer Jason Pinsky went 12-1 in the fall. He went 4-0 at the No. 1 position at the ECAC Championships.

• Pinsky won the Princeton Invitational, defeating Bekker in the final.

• Fairbanks was 6-4 in the fall. He advanced to the finals of the Princeton Inivitational.

• Freshman Jonathan Boym went 9-2 in the fall. He won all four of his matches at the ECAC Championships at the No. 3 position.

• Lok was 7-3 during the fall. He defeated Fairbanks in the final of the Princeton Invitational.

• Bekker and Boym went 5-1 in doubles action in the fall. They went a combined 4-0 at the ECAC Championships.

• Lok and Pinsky went 5-2 in the fall. They were 3-1 at the ECAC Championships.

•Justin Fox and O’Gara finished the fall, 3-2.

• The Quakers take on five teams that finished last spring ranked by College Tennis Online.

• Penn takes on Florida State (11) and Nebraska (75) on Feb 3-4.

• By winning the ECAC Championship in the fall, the Quakers solidified an automatic bid to the National Indoors in February.

• The Red and Blue take on Harvard (40), Brown (41) and Columbia (66) during the final three weeks of the regular season.

• Penn is the only school to have three players ranked in the top-10 in singles in the Northeast Region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA)—Pinsky (4), Bekker (6) and Boym (10).

• Pinsky and Lok (7) and Bekker and Boym (13) are ranked in doubles in the Northeast by the ITA.

Quoting Coach Mark Riley

On the team’s strengths in 2006
“Our depth makes us a good team. We have players outside of our top-six in singles pushing guys for playing time. If we have someone in the top-six out with an injury the level should stay the same with whoever replaces them. Also, our top-four spots were outstanding in the fall. The only losses they had in the fall were to quality opponents.”

On the top three in singles
“Jason Pinsky earned the No. 1 spot by defeating Mikhail Bekker in the final of the Princeton Invitational in the fall, along with the rest of his work in the fall. There isn’t much dropoff when you get to No 2. Bekker has been outstanding since the day he came to Penn, in the classroom and on the court. They’re both tough outs, you have to play a complete match to beat them. In the No. 3 spot will be Jonathan Boym. He has done a nice job as a freshman. Boym brings good experience, having played on the U.S. National team.”

On filling out the rest of the singles lineup
“Lok, O’Gara, Fairbanks, Tobias and Fox are all going to get meaningful playing time. Their improvement is going to make us a good tennis team.We’re going to have a rotation in the four through eight spots, and Magnes and Mirable will be pushing those guys for spots as well.”

On doubles
“Pinsky and Lok need to give us more consistency. I look for them to be one of the top doubles teams in the country. Boym and Bekker and O’Gara and Fox have been consistent and need to continue to play at that level.”

On winning the ECAC Championship
“All we wanted to do was have a good showing, but I had a feeling something special was going to happen. We beat Binghamton in a good match. Then we were trailing to Columbia and somehow we pulled it out. When we got through that it was the difference. We beat a very good Penn State team and then defending Ivy League champion Brown. We feel like we belong now with the top teams in the Ivy League.”

On the rest of the fall
“We had a good showing at the regionals, but we have to keep getting better. We didn’t qualify anyone for the national indoors. We have to concentrate on the little things and our fitness as a group.”

On what he learned from the fall
“I learned we have to be prepared for every match and we have to play hard every point. Guys who are on the bench have to be ready to produce when they are called on.”

On the non-league schedule
“It’s a significant upgrade from last year. We have a harder schedule, but we have better depth this year and we think we can handle it. We’re going to play good teams in Florida State, Furman, Nebraska and Central Florida. Then when we go to play at the National Indoors we’ll be matched up against a bunch of top-10 teams.”

On the Ivy League schedule
“The thing about the Ivy League schedule is that everyone is so good. It’s going to be seven really close, hard-fought and competitive matches. If we play extremely well we have a chance to win every match, if we don’t we could lose to anyone in the League, but that’s the fun of it I guess.”

The team goals for 2006
“Our goals are to have a consistent national ranking, prove we can play against the best teams and do something that’s never been done here — win an Ivy League title and get a bid to the NCAA championship as a team. We would also like to get individual singles and doubles bids.”