PHILADELPHIA - The men's tennis team will get the spring portion of its 2012-13 season underway this weekend with two matches, one of which will take place inside the Levy Tennis Pavilion. On Saturday, Penn travels to face in-state rival Penn State at 1 p.m. On Sunday, the Quakers return home, meeting Buffalo in another 1 p.m. match.
Penn looks to build off the turnaround that began in Head Coach David Geatz' first year at the helm of the program. The Red and Blue posted a 10-10 record in 2012 - including a 2-5 mark in the Ivy League - and though the team had fewer overall wins than the year before, they were consistently competitive with a higher class of opponent, even knocking off a pair of ranked Ancient Eight teams in Brown and Dartmouth.
The only new addition to the roster a year ago was Jeremy Court, who earned a second-team All-Ivy nod at the conclusion of last season after closing the year with 22 overall singles wins and putting together a 6-1 record against Ivy League opponents. With three letterwinners gone off of last year's team, he along with co-captains Zach Katz and Nikola Kocovic will be relied on to step up and fill that leadership role.
Five new faces also will look to provide a lift for the team. Sophomore Sylvester Wee practiced with Penn a year ago but was not able to suit up. A 5-2 singles record in the fall showed that he could force his way into the lineup. Another sophomore, Ismael Lahlou, joins the Quakers after transferring from Georgia State. He was 15-6 in his year with the Panthers. Three highly-touted freshmen - Vim De Alwis, Austin Kaplan and Blaine Willenborg - will all play important roles for Penn as well. De Alwis and Willenborg tied for a team high in the fall with 10 singles wins apiece.
The Series with Penn State
Overall: Penn leads 36-12
First Meeting: 1912; Penn won by a score of 4-0
Last Meeting: 2006; Penn won by a score of 4-0
Current Streak: Penn has won the last two meetings between the two teams, both of which were at the ECAC Championships in 2005 and 2006
Last Penn State Win: 1997; PSU won by a score of 4-3
Notables: Penn won the first 22 meetings between the programs, a streak that ended in 1973. In the years since, the Quakers hold an edge of only 14-12.
After a long lay-off in the series, Penn and Penn State will renew pleasantries on Saturday in State College. The Nittany Lions enter the weekend with a record of just 2-4, but all four losses have been to ranked opponents, and three of those losses have ended with a margin of 4-3. In addition, PSU can claim a win over No. 59 New Mexico. Bryan Welnetz is ranked No. 19 in the Atlantic Region in singles
The Series with Buffalo
Overall: Penn leads 1-0
First Meeting: 2012; Penn won by a score of 4-3
The first-ever meeting between the two squads was a nail biter, with Penn receiving wins at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles to hold on for the win. The doubles teams of Katz/Court and Milbrandt/Wong started the day with wins to stake the Quakers to a 1-0 lead. After that, it was Court - along with the graduated Phil Law and Jason Lin - who nabbed wins to get the Red and Blue the necessary four points.
This time around, Buffalo enters the weekend at 2-0 after coasting to wins over Colgate (7-0) and Bryant (6-1). The top of the lineup appears to again be the strength of the team, with Vusa Hove ranked No. 14 in the Northeast Region in singles, and sophomore Damien David coming off a season in which he was awarded the Northeast Region Rookie of the Year. The Bulls ended last season with an overall record of 11-10 (4-1 MAC), but missed the NCAA Tournament despite sharing the regular season title after falling in the final of the MAC Tournament.