PHILADELPHIA – A return home to the Lott Courts meant one thing for the Penn men’s tennis team on Tuesday – a win. That is all the Quakers have done on their home courts this season. With a 6-1 win over UC-Riverside, the Red and Blue are now 5-0 in the friendly confines of their home turf.
The match did not begin as planned for Penn, as the Highlanders came out hard in doubles, looking to establish a presence early on. UCR took the first point, winning the series, 2-1. A convincing win at No. 3 was helped by a close decision at No. 1 for the Highlanders. Phil Law and Justen Roth picked up the lone win for Penn in doubles, a 9-8 win at No. 2.
Head coach Nik DeVore said that his team may not have been prepared for the quick start UCR had and needed to regroup in the locker room before singles.
“We had a pep talk in the locker room in between sessions,” he said. “We made it clear that we had only lost one point and that there were six left to be won. We wanted to remind everyone that this was our court. It worked as we came out rolling in singles.”
Rolling is a good word to describe the way Penn played in singles. The Quakers won all six singles contests, with none going longer than two sets. In fact, besides Hicham Laalej’s match that went to a second-set tiebreaker and Adam Schwartz’ match that had a close second set, the other four matches were squarely in Penn’s favor from the beginning.
“Things happened fast at Nos. 3, 5 and 6,” DeVore said. “That picked up the rest of the team as they saw their teammates playing hard and well.”
Law carried over momentum from a hard-fought win at doubles to his No. 3 singles match. He defeated Quoc Doan, 6-1, 6-0. Law’s partner, Roth, also breezed in singles, defeating Michael Conroy, 6-1, 6-2.
At No. 4, Alex Vasin defeated Austin Anders, 6-1, 6-3. No. 5 saw Jason Lin emerge victorious, 6-2, 6-1, over Raineir Matias.
Laalej’s match at No. 1 was the closest of the singles contests. He won the first set handily, 6-2. In the second, his opponent, Felix Macharez, had a lead late. Laalej rallied to tie the match at 6-6 to send it to a tiebreaker, avoiding match-point. In the tiebreaker, Laalej took an early 3-0 lead before Macharez rallied to close it to 3-2. The Laalej lead in the tiebreaker extended to 6-2 after a nice drop shot from Penn’s No. 1. Macharez won the next point to temporarily stave off defeat, but an impressive Laalej return of serve was too much for Macharez to handle, giving Penn the match in straight sets.
Schwartz had just wrapped up his match at No. 2, 6-3, 7-5 over John Park before Laalej’s win.
Penn is back in action on Saturday in Princeton for the start of the 2009 Ivy League season.
Penn def. UC-Riverside, 6-1
1. Quoc Doan/Felix Macharez (UCR) def. Hicham Laalej/Adam Schwartz (Penn), 8-6
2. Phil Law/Justen Roth (Penn) def. Yi Chai/John Park (UCR), 9-8
3. Michael Conroy/Raineir Matias (UCR) def. Jason Lin/Alex Vasin (Penn), 8-3
UCR Wins Doubles Point, 2-1
1. Hicham Laalej (Penn) def. Felix Macharez (UCR), 6-2, 7-6(3)
2. Adam Schwartz (Penn) def. John Park (UCR), 6-3, 7-5
3. Phil Law (Penn) def. Quoc Doan (UCR), 6-1, 6-0
4. Alex Vasin (Penn) def. Austin Andres (UCR), 6-1, 6-3
5. Jason Lin (Penn) def. Raineir Matias (UCR), 6-2, 6-1
6. Justen Roth (Penn) def. Michael Conroy (UCR), 6-1, 6-2