Flying to Florida for Spring Break is normally a relaxing trip for many, a chance to take in the Sunshine State's beautiful weather and gorgeous beaches.
But the Penn State men's tennis team had their hands full for their trip, with matches to be played against the Central Florida and Southern Florida. Both schools had struggled to begin their seasons, with records of 4-8 and 3-8 respectively, so Penn State looked for a hopeful Florida sweep.
In the end, the Nittany Lions split their two matches, defeating UCF 5-2 but losing a tight one to USF, 4-3.
The UCF match was a good one for the Lions' No. 29 ranked doubles tandem Russell Bader and Jason Lee continued their hot streak, earning an 8-6 victory in doubles, while senior Taylor Cohen and junior Bryan Welnetz sealed the doubles point with a close 8-5 victory soon after.
The Lions would then go on to take four of the six available singles points. Bader, Lee, Cohen and Welnetz all earned singles victories for Penn State. Aside from a dropped set by Cohen, the other three victors did not drop a single set, showing signs of domination against UCF throughout the afternoon.
"We have been working hard to get the team ready for road and outdoor matches," assistant coach Chris Cagle said. "That hard work seems to have paid off. UCF is a strong team."
Unfortunately, the Lions could not complete the Florida sweep, narrowly losing to USF on Friday, 4-3.
Penn State was able to win the doubles point again (with Lee and Bader earning their 64th doubles win in their careers, moving up to seventh all time on Penn State's list), but were overcome by strong singles play from the South Florida Bulls.
The momentum swung in USF's favor when South Florida's Wael Kalani defeated Jason Lee. Kalani won the first set easily, but endured a difficult second set out of Lee that saw a tiebreaker victory. Kalani would finish Lee off in the third set however, winning the match 6-2, 6-7 (7-2), 6-2, tying USF up with Penn State at 2-2.
The remaining three singles matches became an intense affair with the entire match on the line. Welnetz would go down in straight sets to give USF a 3-2 lead, but Bader would not let the Bulls off the hook so easily, defeating his opponent Juan Carlos Acuna in a tough three set match (6-7 (7-5), 6-0, 6-2) to even the score.
The final match would be the defining one for Penn State however, as sophomore Chris Young would lose to USF's Oliver Pramming in three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, earning USF the hard-nosed victory.
Although two road victories would have been nice, the Lions will be happy to take one down South, and now head back to much colder Ohio to open up Big Ten conference play.