Nittany Lions Set Finish Regular Season
April 19, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK. Pa; - The Penn State Nittany Lions (11-11, 1-8) are readying themselves for a highly anticipated final weekend of the regular season. Penn State opens the weekend with a road bout against the No. 21 Michigan Wolverines (15-5, 8-1) on Friday, April 20 at 4 p.m. The team will then return home on Sunday, April 22 to close out the regular season at noon against the No. 64 Michigan State Spartans (16-10, 5-5).
Last weekend, Penn State dropped a tough match to the No. 23 Illinois Fighting Illini (6-1). The Nittany Lions fought hard, but could not overcome a veteran Illini squad led by the No. 5 singles player in the nation, Dennis Nevolo. Penn State dropped all three doubles matches and allowed Illinois to come back from early deficits in four-of-six singles matches. Freshman Tomas Hanzlik (Prague, Czech Republic) took a 5-3 lead on Nevolo in the first set and a 2-0 lead in the second set before eventually conceding both sets. Junior Bryan Welnetz (Laredo, Texas) picked up the Lion's lone win of the day on court four. The junior battled back after dropping his first set (6-4), to take the final two sets (7-6 (4), 11-9).
Sophomore Russell Bader (Austin, Texas) sports the Nittany Lions best singles record this season. The Texan owns a 22-13 overall record, including a 3-0 record when stepping in to play No. 1 singles. Co-captain's Taylor Cohen (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Christopher Hasyn (Lansdale, Pa.) have been Penn State's most consistent singles players recently. Both Pennsylvania natives have posted 5-5 records in their last 10 matches. Both Cohen and freshman Tomas Hanzlik (Prague, Czech Republic) have each picked up four Big Ten singles victories, too.
Senior Jason Lee (Melbourne, Australia) and Bader continue to be ranked in this week's ITA Top-75 doubles poll. The duo currently ranks No. 31 in the nation and sports an 11-1 first doubles record this season. Cohen and Welnetz have been the next best option for Penn State this season, posting a 6-4 record together, including going 5-1 in second doubles action.
Michigan enters the weekend on a tear. The No. 21 Wolverines have won their last six Big Ten matches and 11 out of their last 12 matches overall. A big part of the team's success is standout Even King's performance in both No. 1 singles and doubles play. King currently ranks eighth in the most recent ITA singles poll and owns an 18-2 dual match record, including going 12-6 against ranked opponents. King and Shaun Bernstein team together to create the No. 22 ranked doubles tandem in the country, as well. The duo is 12-6 on the season from the No. 1 spot.
The No. 64 Michigan State Spartans enter the weekend looking to move up the Big Ten standings, as well. The Spartans are currently in seventh place with a 5-5-conference record. Sophomore Aaron Pfister leads the team with a 12-6 record in singles play. Denis Bogatov also has buoyed the Spartans in second singles, posting an 8-6 mark from that position this season. Austin Brooks and Harry Jadun have teamed together to form the Spartan's most successful doubles tandem, posting 10 wins thus far. Pfister and Drew Lied combine to form the No. 88 tandem in the nation.
Penn State is looking to improve its position prior to next week's Big Ten Tournament with a pair of wins this weekend. The Nittany Lions currently reside in 11th place, but could move into eighth in the Big Ten standings with two victories. The Big Ten Tournament will be held from Thursday, April 26-to-Sunday, April 29 at Northwestern's Vandy Christie Tennis Center.