The world of college tennis has a team quietly sneaking up the ranks in NCAA Division I. The University of Pennsylvannia men captured their second straight Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship, shutting out every team they played along the way.
Rain brought the main draw matches inside the National Tennis Center bubble (temporary until the new building is finished) while the playoff matches were scattered between four other locations. I was on hand for most of the final day of play, arriving in time to see the last half of UPENN vs. Penn State in the semifinals. It was an exciting match with two out of the four in three-setters. Since I had missed the beginning, I was surprised to find that the final score was 4-0 as the matches I saw were all close in points and games, the closest being Mikhail Bekker's 3-6,6-4,7-6(8) finisher over Ryan Berger.
The final against Columbia, who had beaten Brown in the semis (4-1), was not quite as close as the previous match, but it was good college tennis. They began with some great doubles and I was rather impressed with Mark Clemente, (he may look small, but he can command the net with some winning volleys) however he was no match for Jason Pinsky in singles. Mikhail and Jonathan Boym were the quick finishers to give UPenn the trophy. Even though Freshman Adam Schwartz didn't get to finish his matches on the final day, he was instrumental in getting his team there during the previous two.
It was too bad that the weather couldn't cooperate to keep all the playoffs at the National Tennis Center, but the college tennis world got a good look at what's to come from Coach Mark Riley's Quakers.
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