PHILADELPHIA – The Penn women’s tennis team starts off its spring season on Saturday with a pair of matches. The first half of the doubleheader begins at noon as the Quakers face off against a very young Lehigh team that is coming off a tough 2012 spring. In the afternoon match, set to start at 4 p.m., the Red and Blue match up with Big 5 rival Saint Joseph’s, who finished last season with a 2-9 conference record in the Atlantic 10.
In addition to making their spring season debut, the Quakers have a young doubles pair that took the ITA by storm this fall. Currently ranked first in the Northeast region, and No. 14 in the country, Sonya Latycheva and Sol Eskenazi will have large targets on their backs all season long. The freshman and sophomore duo posted a 10-2 record in the fall, and advanced all the way to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, where they went 2-2 and made the consolation semi-finals.
Head coach Sanela Kunovac is looking forward to having more time to work with these two budding stars, and is not shy about her NCAA aspirations for the young duo either.
Penn has never lost to Lehigh, posting an overall 13-0 edge in the all-time series – the Quakers are 10-0 at home against the Mountain Hawks in a series that dates back to the 1985 season. The last time these two teams met was on March 15 of last season at the Hamlin Tennis Center. The Red and Blue demolished Lehigh, 7-0, giving them a run of six straight shutouts in the series.
Co-captains Stephanie Do and Jules Rodin will lead the way along with Eskenazi in the singles draw. Rodin, after seeing no action in the fall, will make her debut in the spring and look to start off her final campaign as a Quaker with a win.
In doubles, along with the Eskenazi-Latycheva pair, the duo of Alex Ion and Jaime Yapp-Shing will contribute after a successful fall in which they posted a 3-1 record together. But according to Kunovac, she will mix up the pairings all season.
Despite their closeness in proximity, the Quakers and Hawks have only faced each other twice, and not since 2011. Both matches took place at the Levy Tennis Pavilion – both ended, 7-0, in favor of Penn. Although Saint Joseph’s did not have the most successful season in 2012, they had a rather promising fall, suggesting they may present a bit of a challenge for the Red and Blue.