PHILADELPHIA - Only two matches remain for the Penn men's tennis team this 2011-2012 season. First, the Quakers will travel to Ithaca, N.Y. on Friday to take on Cornell before returning home for the season finale against No. 45 Columbia on Sunday. The match with the Lions will kickoff at 2 p.m. and will be held at the Hamlin Tennis Center Courts, weather-permitting.
About the Quakers
Penn (10-8, 2-3 Ivy) is coming off its second Ivy League win of the season, crushing No. 60 Dartmouth, 5-1. The Red and Blue took the doubles point after the duo of Nikola Kocovic and Mark Milbrandt gutted out a 9-8 tiebreaker victory over Dartmouth's No. 1 team. Penn would then win four of the next five singles matches to claim the 5-1 victory. With the match already decided, Jason Lin and his opponent abandoned their match at No. 6, though Lin had won the first set.
Freshman Jeremy Court was the only Quaker to win his singles match the day before against No. 24 Harvard and went 2-0 on the weekend to pick up his team-best 20th and 21st overall wins. It was his ninth in a row and the New Rochelle, N.Y. native has yet to lose in the Ivy League, going 5-0. Against Dartmouth, Court made his debut at No. 2 singles, defeating his Big Green opponent, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, and he is also undefeated at the No. 3 (4-0) and No. 5 (5-0) spots this spring. In doubles, Court and his partner, Zach Katz, are the only duo with a winning record in the conference at 3-2.
A Year Ago
Last year, the Quakers dropped both matches to Cornell and Columbia by the same 5-2 margin. Only last year's captain, Hicham Laalej, and this year's captain, Phil Law, managed victories in singles against the Big Red squad, which at the time consisted of five seniors in the No. 1-5 positions. None of Cornell's regulars this season participated in that match a year ago. Against Columbia, Penn had a chance down 3-2 to pull out the victory, but it could not come up with the final two singles wins. Laalej once again was victorious for the Quakers though, with Kocovic also picking up the other win.
Sunday's match also marks the last home contest for Penn's three seniors, Eugen Brazdil, Phil Law, and Jason Lin. Brazdil unfortunately has not been able to play much this year due to injury but is 2-0 in the two dual matches that he did compete in. In his first year as a Quaker his sophomore year after transferring from UCLA, Brazdil accumulated an 18-12 record overall, including an 8-2 mark in the fall where he claimed the Princeton Invitational Flight A title and also reached the finals of the USTA NTC Invitational Flight A singles. The native from Slovakia was the No. 1 singles player in the spring that season and finished with a 10-10 record in dual matches. In limited action last year, he had a 2-3 record at No. 1 doubles partnering with Laalej.
This year's captain, Phil Law, has been a four-year player for the Quakers and has provided tremendous leadership for the team. The Cochrane, Alberta native has been a key contributor dating back to his freshman season, playing primarily in the No. 2-No. 4 slots. As a freshman, Law was 23-15 overall, including winning the Columbia Fall Invite Flight B Championship and his 23 wins were the most on the team. For his career at Penn, he is 69-47 in singles and 41-37 in doubles entering this weekend.
Jason Lin has also been a four-year player for Penn and has also been a solid performer for the team. The Irvine, Calif. native has primarily played No. 4-No. 6 singles, accumulating an overall career record of 61-46 in singles, including 12-7 this season. This spring, Lin has also played an important role in doubles for the Quakers, partnering with Rob Wong to play in the No. 2 spot and the duo is currently 3-7 together. Last year, he did team up with Jason Magnes once at the USTA NTC Invitational, winning the Flight D Doubles title there.
The Series with Cornell
Overall Series: Penn leads 43-32-1 against the Big Red
First Meeting: 1912, Cornell won 5-1
Last Meeting: April 15, 2011, Cornell beat Penn 5-2 at the Lott Tennis Courts
Last Penn Win: February 15, 2009, Penn outlasted Cornell 4-3 at the ECAC Championships but the Big Red would return the favor later in the season, edging out the Quakers 4-3 on April 19, 2010
- Cornell has won the last three matchups with the Red and Blue
Last season, Cornell was the Ivy League Champion, going undefeated in the conference and finishing the season with a 26-5 record overall. However with the loss of six seniors, four of which earned All-Ivy recognition, the Big Red has stumbled this season with an 8-15 record (1-4 in the Ivies). Now, the lineup consists of one sophomore, Venkat Iyer, ranked No. 4 in the ITA Northeast Region at the beginning of the season, and five freshmen. Entering the matchup with Penn on Friday, Cornell is coming off its first victory against an Ancient Eight opponent this spring, defeating Yale 4-3 last Sunday which also ended the team's seven-match losing streak.
The Series with Columbia
Overall Series: 46-45-1
First Meeting: The first meeting in 1912 resulted in a 3-3 tie, the only tie in the series
Last Meeting: April 17, 2011, Columbia defeated Penn, 5-2, to end the season
Last Penn Win: October 2, 2006, Penn shutout the Lions, 4-0, in the ECAC Championships Finals to capture the team's second straight ECAC title
- That same 2006-2007 season, however, Columbia downed Penn 4-2 in the last match of the regular season to clinch a share of the Ivy League title. The Lions would then beat the Quakers, 4-1, in an Ivy League playoff match for the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
- The two wins by Columbia in 2007 set off a six-match winning streak against Penn
Columbia (16-4, 3-2 Ivy) comes into the weekend ranked 45th nationally in the most recent ITA standings, dropping eight spots after losing both of its matches last week. On Saturday, the Lions suffered a 4-3 heartbreaking lost to Yale, snapping the team's 12-match winning streak. Following the defeat, Columbia fell the next day to now No. 51 ranked Brown, 5-2. One bright spot for the Lions was freshman Winston Lin, who went 2-0 on the weekend and remains undefeated in the Ivy League. In addition, he is 19-1 in dual matches this spring, including 11-0 at the No. 2 spot. Columbia did hand Harvard its only loss in the conference so far, defeating them 5-2 on April 8th.