Men's tennis moves up eight spots in ITA Poll to set new program high

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State men's tennis team moved up eight spots in this week's ITA Poll to No. 16. The Nittany Lions continue to set new program highs in 2014. The team is now 19-2 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten. They enter this weekend with an eight-match win streak.

Sophomore Leonard Stakhovsky (Kiev, Ukraine) moved up to No. 33 in the ITA Singles Poll, jumping 17 spots. Stakhovsky is now the highest ranked player in Penn State history. Michael James(2004-08) held the previous highest ranking at No. 41.

Stakhovsky and senior Russell Bader (Austin, Texas) dropped two spots in the ITA Doubles Poll to 30th, while Michael Reilly (Raleigh, N.C.) and Chris Young (Melbourne, Australia) remained ranked 54th in doubles.

"It's such an honor for the program to be ranked as one of the top 16 teams in the country," said Head Coach Jeff Zinn. "The ramifications are that we have the possibility to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Championships and that's what makes it such a milestone for us. That's been one of our goals the last few weeks once we realized that we had a lot of momentum going."

"It also puts a little pressure on us that we have to finish out the season strong to maintain that ranking and the ability to host, but everything is controlled by us and if we perform well, that's all that matters. We just need to continue to fight like we have all season."

With 19 wins this spring, the Nittany Lions have tied the program-high set in 1984. They also have nine wins over Top 75 opponents to set a new program mark, topping the eight wins by the 2008 team. This past weekend, the Nittany Lions picked up their fifth road win, all of which came against ranked opponents.

Penn State will have at least three more opportunities against ranked opponents this season. They travel to No. 36 Purdue and No. 69 Indiana this weekend. They host No. 62 Nebraska and Iowa on April 18 and 20.

Stakhovsky is 15-4 this spring and has six wins over ranked opponents. He has defeated three opponents ranked among the Top 40 players in the nation. Stakhovsky has earned three Big Ten Player of the Week awards this spring.

Strong doubles play has been one the biggest keys to the Nittany Lions' success this spring, having won the doubles point in 19 of 21 matches.

Bader and Stakhovsky improved to 13-4 this past weekend at the top doubles spot. They have earned wins against two ranked doubles pairs. Their best win came against Ohio State's Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka, ranked 3rd in the nation.

Reilly, a junior, and Young, a senior, have won 12 straight matches at No. 2 doubles. They also have two wins against ranked opponents.

"We couldn't be more proud of our players for what they have accomplished in such a short time," said Assistant Coach Paul Tobin. "Achieving a number 16 ranking is a huge milestone not only for our program but for Penn State athletics. We're excited about it, but we know that we have four good conference opponents that we still have to play."

Penn State meets the Boilermakers at 1 p.m. on Friday and the Hoosiers at Noon on Sunday.

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Last Updated April 10, 2014