Draw Announced for NCAA Women's Tennis Doubles

2008 NCAA Women's Tennis Doubles Bracket

PHILADELPHIA – The seedings and draw for the 2008 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships were released this afternoon, and Ekaterina Kosminskaya and Julia Koulbitskaya will find a familiar opponent on the other side of the net for Thursday’s first round at the University of Tulsa.

Penn’s duo drew Arkansas’ Ela Kaluder and Aurelija Miseviciute for its opening match. The two teams met in the final of the William & Mary Invitational in September, with Kosminskaya and Koulbitskaya claiming the title with an 8-3 win. Kosminskaya and Koulbitskaya enter the tournament ranked 33rdin the country in the latest ITA polls;Kaluder and Miseviciute areranked 21st.

Kosminskaya and Koulbitskaya are 22-4 as a team this season. In the fall, they combined to win two doubles tournaments -- in addition to the William & Mary Invitational title, they claimed the Cissie Leary Invitational crown on their home courts. The twosome was 4-1 in Ivy League matches and earned second-team All-Ivy honors.

Kaluder and Miseviciute were 13-8 as a team in the regular season and recently finished up a run with their teammates to the Elite Eight in the team tournament where they fell to UCLA.

For Kosminskaya, this is her second trip to the national tournament. Last season, as a freshman, she teamed with classmate Maria Anisimova to earn Penn’s first-ever bid into the doubles tournament. Not content with merely being there, the duo defeated LSU’s Megan Falcon and Hannah Robinson in the first round, 6-4, 6-4.

The historical nature of her back-to-back bids is not lost on Kosminskaya.

“This means a lot, not only to me but to the program,” she said. “This is a great reflection of where Penn tennis is on a national level.”

While this is Kosminskaya’s second trip to NCAAs, it will be the first for Koulbitskaya. She has competed in two NCAA team tournaments, but Thursday will mark her first foray into individual competition.

“This is very new to me,” the senior tri-captain said. “This is a great way to cap my college career. Team success is always important and satisfying, but this means a lot at a personal level.”

Kosminskaya took time to reflect on her and her partner’s success this season in preparation for the upcoming chance for a national title.

“Every match is different,” the 2007 Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Year said. “We had a good run in the fall and have improved so much over the course of the season. Every team we could play this week is very good. We will need to be at our best as well. If we focus on each match as it comes and don’t get ahead of ourselves, we will be fine.”

Koulbitskaya expects to draw on her teammate's experience in Oklahoma.

“Kate is a world-class player, and has succeeded at every level she has played at,” she said. "She sees the court so well, and knows when and where to move almost instantly. Playing with her motivates me to step up my game.”

Kosminskaya is impressed with how their partnership has flourished over the course of the season.

“Two good individuals do not always make a good doubles team,” she said. “Our chemistry is great and we understand each other on the court very well. Julia is very strong mentally and always makes good decisions.”

The 32 teams will compete over five days to crown the 2008 champion with the finals on Monday. A team will need to win five matches in five days to win the title. Koulbitskaya is prepared to expect the unexpected when play starts later this week.

“These are the 32 best teams in the country,” she said. “Everyone is truly capable of beating anyone, so really any of the 32 teams can win this.”