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Men's tennis takes eight of nine matches in 6-1 defeat of Rutgers

It would have been a disaster in most other circumstances.

As the men's tennis team's game against Rutgers drew to a close yesterday afternoon, the Scarlet Knights' Scott McGrath was down 5-4, 30-0 in the third set of his match against Princeton's No. 1 Jon Gilula.

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McGrath was serving to stay in the match, and Gilula appeared ready to close out a hard-fought win. But then McGrath came back to win the game, equalling the set at five games apiece. McGrath followed that up by winning the last two games of the set, taking an emotional 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Gilula.

Near whitewash

It could have spelled disaster for the Tigers (1-1 overall), but by that point of the match, they were already up, 6-0. Gilula's defeat was the only blemish in Princeton's 6-1 win over Rutgers yesterday at Jadwin Gym as the Tigers evened their record, rebounding from a 6-1 loss to Miami Feb. 22.

"I just told our team that it's an early match, just our second team match of the season, and we're still not really match-sharp," head coach David Benjamin said. "I also think that we were fairly tight and tentative during part of the match. We just have to work really hard, and the more matches we play, I think the less tentative we'll be."

After Princeton won the doubles point by sweeping all three matches, each of the six singles players for the Tigers won the first set of his match. But then came the lack of match-toughness Benjamin mentioned.

Four of Princeton's singles players fell behind early in the second set of their matches, but all were able to recover with the exception of Gilula.

'Ran out of steam'

"They sort of ran out of steam a little," Benjamin said. "They kind of won that first set and then physically and mentally let up a little."

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Despite the letups, Princeton clinched an early overall victory after singles wins by sophomore No. 6 Scott Borenstein (6-1, 6-1), junior No. 5 Jeff Schachter (7-5, 6-2) and sophomore No. 3 Ahn Ahn Liu (6-3, 6-3). Those three points, combined with the doubles point, gave the Tigers four of the possible seven points in the match.

While Borenstein in particular coasted to an easy victory, the Tigers' No. 2 and 4 singles players fought back-and-forth struggles in their wins.

Clutch play

Junior No. 4 Patrick Sweeney defeated Rutgers' De Varshi Mitra, 6-4, 7-5, despite an leg injury that Mitra suffered in the first set. Although it appeared that Mitra might have to default, he used a barrage of baseline forehands and backhands to get back in the game. Sweeney, however, broke Mitra's serve late in the third set, helping him to his ninth singles win of the year.

Freshman No. 2 Kyle Klieger-man also had an exciting victory, 6-4, 7-6, over the Scarlet Knights' Joe Howard. In the second set tiebreak, Kliegerman pulled out a 7-5 win.

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The Tigers return to Jadwin Gym Thursday against St. John's and Saturday against Penn State, which defeated Princeton last fall.

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