After taking two contests last week in Jadwin Gym, the men's tennis team (2-1 overall) was on a roll, looking ready to defeat Penn State Saturday.
Crushing both Rutgers one week ago and St. John's last Thursday, by scores of 6-1 each, Princeton appeared to be well on its way to a hat trick.
The Nittany Lions, however, stopped the Tigers short, handing them their first loss of the regular season.
"We knew it was going to be tough," junior No. 6 Kevin Woo said. "They had beaten us the last two times we played them."
Despite the fact that Penn State captured the match, 5-2, the Tigers fought hard all afternoon. Nevertheless, they only came up with two singles wins and a doubles victory that was too little, too late.
"It wasn't like we went into (the match) thinking we were going to lose, in fact it was the opposite," Woo said. "We were really motivated to play this match."
It was Penn State, however, whose motivation pushed it over the hill and toward victory. The Nittany Lions took the top-four seeded matches, handing out defeats to senior Jon Gilula, freshman Kyle Kliegerman, sophomore Ahn Ahn Liu and junior Patrick Sweeny, in descending order.
Woo and fellow junior Jeff Schachter were the only players to win singles matches for the Tigers, boasting impressive victories. Schachter took the No. 5 match, 6-2, 6-1, while Woo captured his, 6-1, 6-0.
In addition, Woo and Schachter teamed up to hand Penn State its only doubles defeat of the afternoon.
Schachter and Woo are just one of the new doubles combinations that head coach David Benjamin has experimented with this season in an attempt to rebuild part of the team that was hurt by graduation in the past few years.
"We've had more troubles with doubles teams in the last couple of years than our singles," Woo said. "We've made some new teams up, we're experimenting. Our doubles are getting stronger (once again) this year."
Gilula, who has been the No. 1 seed for the Tigers, has been having trouble early this season. Despite making it to the final match of the Farnsworth Invitational Jan. 30-Feb. 1, Gilula has not been able to capitalize on his skills in the regular season. He has lost all three of his first matches at home.
"He has a lot of match points, but sometimes he doesn't follow through," Woo said.
Nevertheless, Woo has faith that the captain will soon be back to his normal level of performance, and help give the Tigers the ingredients they need for a winning season.