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Men's tennis adjusting to outdoors

After five long months of winter, the men's tennis team emerged from its hibernation deep inside Jadwin Gym to once again return outdoors.

Over spring break the Tigers travelled to someplace warm – sunny California – to escape the wintertime blues.

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The trip was not meant for relaxation. The week was packed with intense practices and four matches in preparation for the outdoor season.

"Most of the games were pretty tough," said head coach David Benjamin. "It's much of a training trip getting ready for our season."

Tough start

This was indeed the case as Princeton (5-6) dropped all but one match, losing to San Diego, Pepperdine and California-Santa Barbara before picking up a win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

"It's always a big adjustment to return to playing outdoors," Benjamin said. "It's unusual that for the first couple of matches anyone plays their best."

"It is definitely an adjustment playing outdoors," junior No. 5 Jeff Schachter said. "It wasn't as bad as last year, when our first match was outdoors."

This transition must be smooth and quick, as Princeton has five matches in the next two weeks.

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"You need a week or 10 days to feel comfortable playing outside," Benjamin said.

The match against San Diego was a close one and was not decided until Princeton dropped the final singles match.

The team was not quite at full strength, however, as Princeton was missing senior No. 1 Jon Gilula, who suffered a concussion and was unable to play. This forced everyone to jump up one position.

"The match against San Diego was very tough," Benjamin said.

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Despite Gilula's return to the court against Pepperdine, the Waves proved to be too much for the Tigers, as Princeton lost the match without capturing a single win.

"Pepperdine is in the top five in the country," Benjamin said. "They beat us pretty handily."

Not Irish

The Tigers did not have much more luck against UCSB, capturing only one match, while dropping the other six. Schachter won the No. 5 singles contest to give Princeton its sole victory. In addition, sophomore Ahn Ahn Liu and junior Patrick Sweeney prevailed in the No. 3 doubles match, which did not count in the scoring.

The last match of the week proved to be the easiest for the Tigers, as Princeton cleanly swept Claremont-Mudd-Scripps seven games to none.

Not one singles match went into a third set, as two sets were all that the Tigers needed to prove their strength. The closest doubles match was that of Liu and Sweeney, 8-4.

This weekend Princeton heads out on the road to challenge Penn Saturday and Columbia Sunday.

"We practiced hard and played a lot," Benjamin said. "We are playing better tennis than when we left for the trip.

"I would say that they are both really even with us; the more difficult match will be Columbia."

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