PHILADELPHIA - The Penn women's tennis team is set to host the 16th annual Cissie Leary Tournament this weekend. Action will get underway Friday morning at 8 a.m. and continue through Sunday. Matches will be played on both the outdoor and indoor courts at the Hamlin Tennis Center and Levy Tennis Pavilion.
This year, there will be 16 schools participating in the tournament. In addition to Penn, four other Ivy League schools will also be present; Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Yale. City rivals Drexel, Temple, and Saint Joseph's are also in the draw. Akron, Bowdoin, Delaware, Maryland, Penn State, University of Rhode Island, Richmond, and St. John's round out the field.
Last year, Penn captured the doubles title for the second year in a row when the duo of Sol Eskenazi and Jaime Yapp-Shing took down the top-seeded pair from Penn State in the championship match, 8-4. Eskenazi and Yapp-Shing had also defeated the second-seeded team from Columbia in the semifinals by the same 8-4 score on their way to the final. In 2010, then-freshman Connie Hsu and 2011 team captain Alexa Ely took home the Cissie Leary doubles title. That same year, Hsu claimed the singles crown to complete the Cissie Leary sweep for the Red and Blue.
In the singles draw last year, Eskenazi and classmate Alex Ion both had successful runs into the semifinals of the tournament. Unfortunately, Ion fell to Columbia's No. 1 player, Nicole Bartnik, and Eskenazi lost to the eventual singles champion, Petra Januskova from Penn State, in a tough 4-6, 5-7 battle.
Penn is coming off of a nice showing at the Columbia Invitational last weekend; all eight Quakers that participated came away with at least one win in the tournament. In her first collegiate experience, freshman newcomer Sonya Latycheva reached the semifinals of the Flight B singles draw. There she lost to Kanika Vaidya of Columbia, who went on to win the Flight B singles title. Latycheva also had some success in doubles with partner Eskenazi. The duo made it to the semifinals of the Flight A doubles draw before Eskenazi had to withdraw due to injury. In Flight B doubles, the tandem of Yapp-Shing and Srinidhi Raghavan advanced to the finals but eventually lost to the Columbia team of Kovacevic and Vaidya, 8-3.
This will be the 16th year the Cissie Leary Tournament will be held in honor of the late Cissie Leary, who passed away in November 1996 after a long battle with scleroderma. Leary came to Penn in 1977 and had 16 teams with winning records in her 20 seasons coaching women's tennis. In 1982, Leary had one of her most successful seasons coaching as Penn claimed the EITA team championship. Her squad also completed five straight undefeated seasons from 1981 through 1985. Leary was very active in the local community, spending time with the Fight Against Drugs campaign for underprivileged children and the Greater Philadelphia Kidney Transplant Association.