ITHACA, N.Y. - During her time as student-athlete at Penn, Sanela Kunovac was a part of many Ivy team victories as the Quakers took home Ivy League Champioinships during her freshman and sophomore seasons. With a 4-3 win over Cornell on Friday afternoon, the second-year coach can now add an Ivy victory to her resume as a coach. The match with Cornell started out slow for Penn as the Quakers won just one of the three doubles matches, but the team would not be denied as they stormed back to sweep the top four singles positions on the way to victory.
In doubles, Penn started out with a pair of difficult matches as Cornell took the numbers two and three matches by an 8-1 score. Connie Hsu and Alexa Ely picked up their 14 victory of the spring together and the 28th overall of the season at number one doubles. The duo is also now a perfect 6-0 inside the Ivy League. However, the doubles win would not come easily as Cornell's top pairing forced a tiebreak, but Hsu and Ely would prevail in the end. Despite losing number one, Columbia would take the early lead with the two wins in doubles.
Hsu quickly knotted the score at one with her 6-1, 6-0 victory at the top singles position. Hsu now has 42 victories on the year and is a perfect 6-0 in the Ivy League. Jaime Yapp-Shing would give Penn the early 2-1 lead with her win at number three. She took her match in straight sets by an identical 6-3 score. Yapp-Shing now has 14 wins on the season and this was her first Ivy League singles win of her freshman campaign.
Just when Penn looked to be taking control of the match, Cornell picked up a pair of victories at numbers five and six. At number six, Cornell won in straight sets by consecutive 6-2 scores. At number five, Emma Whitfield put up a tough battle in the first set before falling 7-5. She would then face the same fate in the second set as that of Daniela DePaoli at number six.
These two victories coupled with doubles point from early on put Cornell on the brink of the team victory. Needing just one victory in the final two matches, the Quakers had their work cut out for them, but Penn had came up on the short end too many times this season to let that happen again.
Freshman Stephanie Do would even the team score with her victory at number four. Do battled throughout the first set, but fell 6-4 in the opening set. Facing a must win situation in both the team score and the individual match, Do delivered the win at number four with victories in the second and third sets. She cruised in the second set to a 6-2 victory and then just turned on the afterburners in the third set, winning 6-0 and setting up the final individual match to decide the team match. This win was Do's ninth win of the season and also her first in the Ivy League for the Penn freshman.
With a lineup that featured as many as four freshman throughout the year, the match would come down to Penn's senior captain, Ely, playing at number two. Like Do, Ely faced an early deficit after she lost the first set 6-3. The second set would get no easier as it would get to six-all and a tiebreak. With no margin for error, Ely took the tiebreak 7-3 and forced the decisive third set.
Things still did not get any easier in the third, but Ely showed her senior pose en route to the 6-4 win in the third set that sent the Quakers home on the winning side of the scoreboard. This was Ely's 10th victory of the season and her second of the Ivy season.
With the win, Penn will now have a chance to move into sole possession of sixth place in the Ivy League with a victory over Columbia on Sunday in the home finale. This match will take place at noon. Columbia does not have an Ivy win on the season, but will be hungry after falling just short against nationally-ranked Princeton 4-3 today. Penn also lost to Princeton 4-3 in the first match of Ivy play.
Penn 4 Cornell 3
1. Connie Hsu/Alexa Ely (P) def. Kelly Comolli/Shannon Comolli (C), 8-7 (6)
2. Christine Ordway/Ryann Young (C) def. Jaime Yapp-Shing/Jules Rodin (P), 8-1
3. Sinziana Chis/Ruxandra Dumitrescu (C) def. Stephanie Do/Emma Whitfield (P), 8-1
1. No. 26 Connie Hsu (P) def. Christine Orday (C), 6-1, 6-0
2. Alexa Ely (P) def. Ryann Young (C), 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4
3. Jaime Yapp-Shing (P) def. Sinziana Chis (C), 6-3, 6-3
4. Stephanie Do (P) def. Kelly Comolli (C), 4-6, 6-2, 6-0
5. Ruxandra Dumitrescu (C) def. Emma Whitfield (P), 7-5, 6-2
6. Sarah O'Neil (C) def. Daniela DePaoli (P), 6-2, 6-2