There's no place like home, at least for the men's tennis team.
Entering yesterday's match with Army, Princeton's last home loss was March 7 against Penn State.
By winning five of six singles matches, the Tigers (10-6 overall, 5-1 Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association) won their sixth consecutive match, downing the Black Knights yesterday, 6-1, at Lenz Tennis Center. All six matches in the winning streak have taken place at home.
Leading the Tigers was senior No. 1 Jon Gilula, who rallied back from an early 3-0 deficit to beat Army's Rae Cho, 6-4, 6-0.
"Every match has been a struggle (for Jon)," head coach David Benjamin said. "He's playing a lot of outstanding players and he's lost some real heartbreakers."
Slam the door
But against Cho, Gilula came on strong late in the first set. In the set's eighth game, Cho called a close shot out. After arguing the call, Gilula turned it up a notch, winning 12 of the next 13 games to close out the match.
"Anything can happen, I think he just has to stay positive," Benjamin said. "I think he did. He got much more aggressive."
Sophomore No. 3 Ahn Ahn Liu had a strong win over the Black Knights' Brian Zelno, 6-3, 6-2. Liu utilized punishing ground strokes that at times seemed unstoppable.
But Liu was stopped, at least temporarily, although not by Zelno. Early in the second set, Liu started having back pains, forcing him to put on a brace.
Fight through the pain
Yet the brace made no difference as Liu played just as strongly as he had before.
"He pulled something and he couldn't bend," Benjamin said. "We weren't sure if he could keep playing. But he got a back brace, had some Advil and played very tough tennis after that."
Back problems are nothing new for Liu, who sat out six months of last year's season with the same ailment.
"We've been lucky in that this winter and spring, he's been able to play a lot and it hasn't bothered him," Benjamin said.
Freshman No. 2 Kyle Klieger-man pulled out a tough, three-set win over Army's Wes White in the only three-setter of the day.
Kliegerman started off strong, winning the first set, 6-3. But he faltered in the second, failing to convert on a couple of match points, including a double fault.
But in the third set, Kliegerman battled ahead to a 4-3 lead and won the final two games to close out the match.
"He just played harder in the third," Benjamin said. "He didn't give up or get down on himself."
Leading the way
Junior No. 4 Jeff Schachter won his 10th singles match in a row, topping Marshall Clay, 6-1, 6-3. Schachter's team-leading singles record now stands at 21-7.
Schachter teamed with junior Kevin Woo to take the No. 2 doubles match, 8-6, while at No. 3 doubles, Liu and junior Patrick Sweeney won, 8-4.
By winning the No. 2 and 3 doubles matches, Princeton earned the doubles point for the eighth consecutive match.
This weekend, the Tigers will take on Dartmouth and No. 15 Harvard in their toughest matches of the season.