Men's tennis enters top 25 in ITA Poll for first time

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State men's tennis team moved up four spots in the ITA Poll this week to 23rd as the team continues to set new program highs. The Nittany Lions are 15-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten after wins over Michigan State and then-No. 44 Michigan last week.

"Hopefully this is the first of many Top 25 rankings for our program," said Head Coach Jeff Zinn. "It's one of our goals, but we have a few more that we are striving for this season. The Big Ten season is just underway and we are looking to stay in the upper part of the Big Ten. Rankings are great, but we need to keep winning. We control our destiny."

Sophomore Leonard Stakhovsky is now 50th in the ITA Singles Poll. Stakhovsky and Russell Bader (Austin, Texas) moved up to 28th in the ITA Doubles Poll. Michael Reilly (Raleigh, N.C.) and Chris Young (Melbourne, Australia) made their debut in the doubles rankings, checking in at 54th.

It is the first time in program history that Penn State had two doubles pairs represented in the poll in the same week.

Stakhovsky was also named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Tuesday. It is the second time this season that Stakhovsky has received the honor. He also won it on February 4. He shares it this week with Ohio State's Peter Kobelt.

It is the first time that a Penn State player won Big Ten Player of the Week two times in a season since Michael James in 2007. James won it on March 14 and April 7, 2007.

Penn State has now defeated five ranked opponents this spring, their most since defeating eight ranked opponents in 2008.

This past weekend, the Nittany Lions earned their third road win over a ranked opponent, tying the program high set in 2007.

"Breaking the Top 25 is a huge accomplishment for this team, " said Assistant Coach Paul Tobin. "We had two solid wins last weekend that proved to us that we can compete for a Big Ten title."

Stakhovsky earned two singles wins this week. He swept Michigan State's Drew Lied, 7-5, 6-4, on Friday. The sophomore picked up a big win on Sunday against Michigan's Alex Petrone, ranked 112th. Stakhovsky lost the first set, 6-3, but won the second and third sets, 7-5, to earn the win and clinch the match for Penn State.

The Kiev, Ukraine native is now 13-2 in singles this spring with four wins against ranked opponents. He currently has a three-match win streak.

Bader and Stakhovsky picked up two doubles wins this weekend. The pair defeated Michigan State's Lied and John Patrick Mullane, 8-5, on Friday. Against the Wolverines, the duo knocked off Michigan's Alex Buzzi and Barrett Franks, 8-5. Buzzi and Franks were ranked 22nd in the nation entering the match. Bader and Stakhovsky have a mark of 11-3 with two wins against ranked opponents.

They are the highest ranked doubles team at Penn State since Bader and Jason Lee were ranked 27th on April 30, 2012.

Reilly and Young enter the polls after topping Michigan's Shaun Bernsteing and Kevin Wong, 8-5, on Sunday. The Michigan pair was ranked 52nd and 9-0 before the match. The Penn State duo improved to 9-0 and have two wins this spring over ranked opponents.

The Nittany Lions host No. 9 Illinois and No. 25 Northwestern this weekend. They face Illinois at 3 p.m. on Friday and the Wildcats at noon on Sunday.

 

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Last Updated March 27, 2014