Men’s Tennis | Princeton Match Tests Depth

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Junior Jordan Portner, left, paired with freshman Michael Chen to win the doubles point in a 6-4 decision in Georgetown’s ultimate 4-3 victory over Navy last weekend.

Junior Jordan Portner, left, paired with freshman Michael Chen to win the doubles point in a 6-4 decision in Georgetown’s ultimate 4-3 victory over Navy last weekend.

The Georgetown men’s tennis team (1-3) will face an important rival when it travels to Princeton (1-2) for a road match this Saturday. Coming off a tight 4-3 win against Navy (2-3) last weekend, the Hoyas hope to carry their momentum into their only match against an Ivy League opponent this season.

“We haven’t beaten an Ivy League team in the spring season in a long time,” junior Jordan Portner said. “They’ve got some really good guys at the top of the lineup … so we’re going to have to stay in there and play really good defense.”

Portner and freshman Michael Chen secured the doubles point for the Hoyas last weekend against Navy in a 6-4 win in the number one doubles slot. Chen’s performances in both singles and doubles play earned him the Big East Men’s Tennis Athlete of the Week accolade.

Head Coach Gordie Ernst cited the performance of his doubles teams as the backbone of Georgetown’s win against Navy, a point he hopes to claim once again in the match against Princeton.

“I also think that our depth is really good. If guys aren’t playing in the lineup per se on one particular match, they’re still working hard knowing that if they get the chance, they’re ready,” Ernst said.

Though Georgetown boasts a deep roster, Princeton will enter the match with the same advantage.

“The depth of these teams like Princeton, that’s what you’re concerned about because they’re solid,” Ernst said. “I mean, guys who are playing five and six were top recruits, but they’re playing five and six for Princeton or Columbia or Harvard, because they’re such good teams.”

Georgetown’s depth will be further tested in the absence of Daniel Khanin, the team’s sole senior who plays in the number one singles position. Though the men’s team still came away with a win against Navy, while a back injury left Khanin on the bench, Khanin is still a major asset to the team’s success.

As Khanin’s health improves, the team will need to maintain its mental toughness in the senior’s absence.

“I think that to beat a team like Princeton, who is 34 in the country, who is very deep — they’re probably second or third in the Ivies — we need [Khanin] back. … I think we’re going to work on trying to be mentally tougher on every single point,” Ernst said.

Ernst stresses that Georgetown’s recruiting capabilities for next year are linked to a win in this match, as many recruits have their eye on a college career in the Ivy League. The Georgetown tennis program is in competition with the programs of these top schools, and a win against Princeton could mean greater success in the upcoming recruitment process.

“We’re not a scholarship program, so I’m not recruiting against … those good schools that have full scholarships,” Ernst said. “I’m recruiting against the Ivies, so for recruiting purposes if we can show that we beat teams like Princeton, recruits take notice of that.”

Portner also emphasized the confidence this win could give the team going forward into what he repeatedly described as a “tough schedule” ahead.

“Letting everyone know that we can compete with an Ivy League team like that would be a huge sign to the rest of the Big East,” Portner said.

As it prepares for Princeton, the team hopes to fine-tune its focus and maintain consistency throughout the match.

“We feel sometimes that we can just have this mental let down, give a point away, and then … we’ll get it back in the next one. It’s hard over the course of a match to do that, especially against good competition,” Ernst said.

The match is set to begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Princeton, N.J.

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