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Game, Set, Touchdown

Tennis and football?  It's a match made in, well, Happy Valley.  The weekend of October 14 featured one of the biggest college contests of the fall season - Michigan vs. Penn State.  And there was a football game played, too.

While many club tennis teams shy away from mixing their passion for tennis with football weekends, the Penn State club tennis team embraced it!  Capitalizing on a healthy rivalry, both on the court and on the gridiron, the Nittany Lions invited the Michigan Wolverines to Happy Valley, Pa., for a Big Ten rivalry weekend.  Penn State, the 2006 USTA Campus Championship - Middle States winner, also welcomed Penn and Villanova, the 2004 and 2005 Middle States champions, respectively, for the tennis action.

On game day, instead of predicting the weekend's football score by playing EA Sports' NCAA Football '07, the students from PSU and Michigan settled the score on the tennis courts.  Hungry for tennis and a little tailgating, the teams played abbreviated doubles sets in the chilly gusty conditions.  The competition on court proved to be as intense as the football game that followed.  While Lee Corso was busy with his antics on ESPN's College Game Day, tandems Jackie Davidson and Lauren Subosits and Travis Weidman and Chris Cappello were busy helping Penn State establish an early lead with tight, 6-5 victories.  Michigan closed the gap during the second round of play, but Steve Eaglen and Diego Rodriguez sealed the Nittany Lions' 12-matches-to-6 victory with another 6-5 win.  Having settled one rivalry on court, the teams then migrated to Beaver Stadium to cheer on their football brethren.

"It's great that a team can do a trip like this," says Justin DePietropaolo, former Penn State Club Tennis Team President.  "Students get riled up as it is, seeing opposing teams before a football game.  Playing those same opposing fans on the tennis court ups the stakes a little bit more."

The Michigan Club Tennis players got their money's worth out of the trip, however.  In addition to sneaking in some winter-weather tennis, they watched as their Wolverines - perhaps motivated by the club tennis team's earlier loss - pulled out a 17-10 victory over Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions.  But while the two schools parted ways with a split decision for the weekend, one thing remains clear: Mixing big time college football and club tennis is a touchdown for everyone involved!