PHILADELPHIA – Penn begins its Ivy League schedule in men’s tennis this weekend, traveling to Princeton for a match with the Tigers. Both teams enter the match with a record of 8-6. The Tigers are ranked 73rd in the country, entering the rankings for the first time this season on the strength of a three-match winning streak. The two most recent wins came against ranked teams – a 4-3 win over No. 60 Utah and a 7-0 defeat of No. 70 UC-Irvine. Penn has lost to UC-Irvine, 6-1.
Penn has played a challenging non-conference schedule, taking on nationally-ranked teams in Miami and UC-Irvine in addition to a tournament that featured Harvard. The preparation will come into play this weekend as the Quakers begin their race to an Ivy championship.
The Quakers missed out on an Ivy crown last season after sharing the title the previous two years. Princeton has not reached the top of the Ivy standings since 1988. Last year, the Red and Blue were 3-4 in the Ancient Eight while Princeton finished 1-6.
Princeton has a formidable No. 1 singles player in Peter Capkovic. He is the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year and two-time first-team All-Ivy. This year, Capkovic is 9-5 in the No. 1 position in dual matches. Three of his five losses have come to ranked opponents. Fellow senior, Alex Vuckovic is 7-1 when playing at the No. 3 position.
Penn will look to counter Capkovic with its No. 1, Hicham Laalej. In his first year at Penn, the junior is 8-4 when playing at No. 1 and will hope to prove himself as one of the top players in the Ivies with a win over the reigning Player of the Year.
Last year, the two teams opened their Ivy campaigns against each other on Penn’s campus, with Princeton picking up its lone Ivy win, 5-2.