It was a key match for both teams' NCAA at-large hopes, but Princeton couldn't find that last point as Columbia came away with a 4-3 win.
"It was a tough loss today," Princeton head coach Billy Pate said. "We did a great job of securing a tight doubles point and we really came out sharp in singles, winning five of the first sets. Columbia never quit and they hung around and did a good job of getting back into the match. Ideally we needed to win one of those second sets. I told the guys to not let this detract from the type of commitment they have demonstrated and the positive direction this group has set for this program. Hopefully this isn't the end of the team season as we have an outside shot to earn an at-large berth to the NCAAs. Unfortunately, that's out of our hands, but we hope to get that chance."
Princeton took the doubles point with a 9-8 victory at third after the teams had split the first two doubles matches. The Tigers then took a 2-0 lead when Matija Pecotic won by retirement while up 3-0 on Columbia's Winston Lin in the first set. Following a win at fifth by Columbia's Nathaniel Gery, Jonathan Carcione won for Princeton to make it 3-1 at sixth.
But that's where the afternoon stalled for Princeton. Three three-set matches at second, third and fourth all went Columbia's way, allowing the Lions to rally for the 4-3 win.
The teams are right in the bubble range for an NCAA team at-large bid, judging by their ITA rankings. Columbia entered the week 47th, Princeton 48th. League-undefeated Harvard took another step Saturday toward securing the Ivy's automatic bid with a win over Yale and matches to come against Brown and Dartmouth.
Princeton's regular season now complete, the Tigers and the rest of college tennis will await the NCAA Division I selection announcement to come Tuesday, April 30 on NCAA.com at 5 p.m. ET.
One name all but certain to be included when the NCAA individual tournament is announced the following evening, May 1 at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com, is Pecotic, who closed out his Ivy dual-match career with his 22nd straight Ivy singles victory. He has gone undefeated in Ivy play now in each of the last three seasons during a streak that started in the final match of his freshman year.
Pecotic played the first five Ivy matches of his career at No. 2 singles back in 2010 before playing No. 1 in the final weekend against Cornell and Columbia. He went 3-2 at the second spot, winning his last three matches there before bumping up to No. 1. Pecotic finishes his Ivy career with a record of 22-1 in league matches at the top spot, with Cornell's Jonathan Jaklitsch, back on April 16, 2010, as the only Ivy Leaguer to defeat Pecotic at No. 1 in a league match. Pecotic returned the favor the next year against Jaklitsch in win No. 8 of the streak.
(47) Columbia (15-7, 5-2) 4, (48) Princeton (16-6, 5-2) 3
1. (85) McCourt/Pecotic (P) def. (69) Narayana/Schnur (C), 9-7
2. Lin/Vancura (C) def. Dan Davies/Spindler (P), 8-5
3. Augie Bloom/Siow (P) def. Ignat/Eric Rubin (C), 9-8
Order of finish: 2,1,3
1. (7) Matija Pecotic (P) def. (67) Winston Lin (C), 3-0, ret.
2. Dragos Ignat (C) def. Matt Spindler (P), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
3. Ashok Narayana (C) def. Zack McCourt (P), 5-7, 7-6, 6-3
4. Max Schnur (C) def. Dan Richardson (P), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
5. Nathaniel Gery (C) def. Matt Siow (P), 6-4, 6-4
6. Jonathan Carcione (P) def. Bert Vancura (C), 6-4, 6-4
Order of finish: 1,5,6,4,2,3