Ivy League opponent drops UB
Men’s tennis suffers first loss of the year
Damien David (above) and the Bulls suffered their first loss of the spring season, 6-1 to Pennsylvania. The Bulls are now 2-1. Satsuki Aoi /// The Spectrum
Aside from academics, Ivy League schools are known for some of the best tennis in the country. Over the weekend, the men's tennis team learned the conference's reputation is valid.
The Bulls (2-1) took on the University of Pennsylvania Sunday afternoon and fell 6-1 against the Quakers (1-1) at Levy Tennis Pavilion.
Penn lost its first match of the spring season against Penn State on Saturday. Bulls head coach Lee Nickell said the loss might have fueled the Quakers' success on Sunday.
"I think what happened was there were two ways they were going to go: They were either going to come out flat, in a bad mood and play poorly, or they were going to make up for the bad match the day before," Nickell said. "I think they did the latter. Their coach told me after the match: 'This is a total 180 from yesterday and this is the best we've ever played,' and I saw it."
Buffalo took its only doubles win when sophomore Damien David and freshman Akhil Mehta took on Penn's Jeremy Court and Nikola Kocovic. The match went to a tiebreaker, which David and Mehta took with a 7-5 win, winning the match 8-7.
Nickell was impressed with Mehta, though he saw the freshman's youth cause slip-ups on the court.
"Akhil has improved a lot since the fall," Nickell said. "He has shown better play, especially in doubles. Akhil just turned 18 and he was up a set at the break and then just kind of let the match slip away a little bit. It's good in the sense that it happens now so we can learn from it before we get to the [Mid-American Conference] schedule so we can close out matches."
Buffalo struggled in the singles matches, finishing with only one victory. Sophomore Sebastian Ionescu defeated Ismael Lahlou.
"Sebastian is a very good player," Nickell said. "He brings a wealth of experience from Romania. He was a national champion at every age division in Romania, so he is very much a well-composed, high-level player, so it's helping us out a lot."
The Bulls will play Cornell (3-1) on Sunday and other Ivy League schools Princeton (2-1) and Brown (2-2) in March. The Bulls' victory over Brown in 2010 marked their last win over an Ivy League opponent.
"It's just about getting experience right now for the younger guys," Nickell said. "It's about getting the experience against Ivy League teams because the Ivy League is just a hair better than the MAC. So it's good for us to play well against them.
"I certainly have expectations for us to beat the Ivy League. I came here with those expectations and, as we continue to build this program, I expect for us to beat them. This game against Penn is a great example of it: If we don't bring our 'A' game against an Ivy League team, we're not going to win, simple as that."
The Bulls' match against Cornell on Sunday is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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