PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s tennis team (8-8, 0-3 Ivy) has a tall task in front of it this weekend, as the Quakers hope to take down the No. 70 Dartmouth Big Green and No. 19 Harvard Crimson. Penn and Dartmouth meet on Saturday at 2 p.m., with Harvard coming in on Sunday for a 2 p.m. start. Each match will be contested at the Hamlin Tennis Courts if the weather permits.
Dartmouth comes into the weekend at 9-9 with a 1-1 record in the Ivy League. After losing to Cornell to open the conference season, the Big Green rebounded with an upset of a Columbia team that came into the match ranked No. 40 in the country. Xander Centenari and Chris Kipouras are the likely pair to challenge Penn’s Jeremy Court and Nikola Kocovic at the top two singles spots, while Cameron Ghorbani has won three of his last four matches at the No.3 spot.
Harvard has earned its lofty national ranking thanks to a 14-4 overall record, including a 2-0 start in Ivy competition. Taking a point in doubles will prove difficult for Penn, as the Quakers will find themselves matched up with two pairings ranked nationally. The teams of Nicky Hu/Andy Nguyen are ranked No. 83 and Denis Nguyen and Casey MacMaster come in at No. 55.
Penn enters the weekend at 8-8 and will be looking to protect its perfect 7-0 record in home matches. A recent five-match road swing saw the Quakers come away with only one win, a 5-2 victory over St. John’s. So far in Ivy League play, the Red and Blue have only won five of 18 singles points, with Blaine Willenborg notching wins over Princeton and Brown before losing to Yale last weekend. Ismael Lahlou leads the Quakers with 11 wins overall this spring, with Vim De Alwis right behind at 10-4.
Penn concludes the Ivy League regular season next weekend, traveling to face Columbia on Friday, April 19, before returning home to meet Cornell on April 21. Each match begins at 2 p.m.
The Series with Dartmouth
Overall: Penn leads, 42-39-1
First Meeting: Penn won, 5-0, in 1914
Last Meeting: The Quakers defeated the Big Green last year in Hanover, 5-1
Notables: With a split at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles in last year’s matchup, Kocovic and Mark Milbrandt secured Penn the doubles point with a gritty 9-8 win at No. 1 to give the Quakers a 1-0 edge … Kocovic and Court had two of Penn’s four wins in singles, with Court taking a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 decision over Centenari … The Quakers have won eight of the last 10 meetings between the programs to take the overall lead in the series.
The Series with Harvard
Overall: Harvard leads, 75-12
First Meeting: Penn won, 3-2, in 1912
Last Meeting: Harvard won a 6-1 decision last season in Cambridge
Last Penn Win: The Quakers downed the Crimson by a score of 4-3 in 2007
Notables: Court won a three-set match at No.3 singles last year to collect Penn’s point in the match … Harvard has won the last seven meetings between the programs, and 43 of the last 44 matchups.