NEW YORK – Endurance proved to be a key characteristic for the No. 47 Columbia men’s tennis team, as the Lions needed numerous three-set matches in singles play to down visiting Penn, 4-3, on Senior Day at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center.
Penn came out strong in the opening stages of doubles action, holding leads in all three matches midway through. While Zach Katz and Vim De Alwis were able to continue playing well for the Quakers the entire No. 2 match, winning 8-2, Columbia’s No. 1 and 3 pairs worked themselves back into their respective matches.
Down 5-2, Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur began to limit many of their unforced errors and rallied to win four consecutive games and overtake Nikola Kocovic and Austin Kaplan, 6-5. Narayana and Schnur then took two of the next three games to capture an 8-6 victory, just while Eric Rubin and Winston Lin were headed to a tiebreaker in the No. 3 match against Jeremy Court and Blaine Willenborg.
Rubin and Lin were also down 5-2 early on, but swung the momentum in their favor, eventually forcing the tiebreak. Columbia and Penn split the first 16 points, but Court and Willenborg were able to earn two points in a row to take the tiebreak by a 10-8 score, giving the Quakers a 1-0 lead in the match.
The Quakers lead was short-lived though, as Schnur played very well in the first two sets of the No. 4 singes match, taking both of them by a score of 6-3 to tie the match at 1-1. Schnur’s match would be the lone singles match to end in straight sets, as the other five matches all needed three sets to be decided.
After dropping the first set, Winston Lin battled back to claim the top singles match. Kocovic took the first set, 6-2, but Lin found his rhythm and forced his opponent to chase shots all over the court, winning the second set, 6-4, before blanking him in the decisive set, 6-0.
In a hotly contested match, Dragos Ignat and Court went head-to-head in the No. 2 match with Ignat coming away victorious. The Columbia first-year won the opening set, but Court bounced back to win the second, sending the match to a third. In the final set, Ignat powered his way to a 6-3 victory, extending Columbia’s team point lead to 3-1.
Austin Katz closed the gap for Penn with a three-set victory of his own in the No. 5 match, but the excitement for the Quakers would not last. After losing the opening set to Ismael Lahlou, Narayana recorded to exceptional sets, 6-0, 6-2, to provide Columbia with the match-clinching point.
Columbia will end the season on Sunday with a trip to Princeton to take on the Tigers. First serve is scheduled for 2 p.m.
1) Narayana/Schnur (C) def. Kocovic/Kaplan (P) - 8-6
2) Katz/De Alwis (P) def. Vancura/Ignat (C) - 2-8
3) Court/Willenborg (P) def. Lin/Rubin (C) - 9-8
Order of Finish: 2,1,3
1) Winston Lin (C) def. Nikola Kocovic (P) - 2-6, 6-4, 6-0
2) Dragos Ignat (C) def. Jermey Court (P) - 7-5, 1-6, 6-3
3) Ashok Narayana (C) def. Ismael Lahlou (P) - 4-6, 6-0, 6-2
4) Max Schnur (C) def. Blaine Willenborg (P) - 6-3, 6-3
5) Zach Katz (P) def. Nathaniel Gery (C) – 4-6, 6-0, 6-4
6) Vim De Alwis (P) def. Bert Vancura (C) – 6-4, 4-6, 7-6
Columbia 4, Penn 3