PHILADELPHIA - After experiencing early season success at both the William & Mary and Columbia Invitational, women's tennis plays its only home tournament of the fall season this weekend as it hosts the annual Cissie Leary Invitational this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Action will get underway on Friday at 8 a.m. Weather permitting; this will be Penn's first chance to showcase its brand-new Hamlin Tennis Center as a part of Penn Park.
The Cissie Leary Invitational will feature eight teams in addition to Penn in 2011. Columbia and Cornell add two more Ivy schools into the tournament draw, while Temple and Drexel add some more local campus connections to the tournament. Fairfield, Delaware, Maryland, and Penn State round out the field of nine schools.
Penn will enter eight players into the singles draw along with four doubles pairings. In singles, Jaime Yapp-Shing, Stephanie Do, Jules Rodin, Daniela DePaoli, and Emma Whitfield all have experience playing in the Cissie Leary Invitational. For the freshmen, Sol Eskenazi, Srinidhi Raghavan, and Alex Ion will all see their first live action on the Penn campus this weekend. In doubles, Eskenazi and Yapp-Shing will play together. Rodin and Raghavan, Do and Ion, along with DePaoli and Whitfield will make up the other three pairings for Penn in the doubles draw.
Yapp-Shing has seen just one match in singles action this season. She won 15 matches a year ago for Penn, including two victories at the Cissie Leary Invitational to advance to the Round of 16. Do was away from competition last weekend, but finished third overall in her draw at the William & Mary Invitational. She also won two matches at the Cissie Leary Invitational in 2010. Like Do, DePaoli also brings a 2-1 record into play this weekend and advanced to the Round of 32 last year.
Whitfield is the third member of the team to bring a 2-1 record into the invitational this weekend. In her only action of the year at William & Mary, Whitfield made the finals of her draw. Rodin also competed at the Tribe Invitational. She did not compete in the Cissie Leary Invitational in 2010 due to injury but played the tournament in 2009 as a freshman.
Eskenazi hit the ground running last weekend when she made her collegiate debut, winning the Flight A singles draw at the Columbia Invitational and is 3-0 on the young season. Raghavan picked up her first collegiate win at the William & Mary Invitational and played tough this past weekend at the Columbia Invitational. Ion will bring a 4-1 record into her first competition at Penn. She is coming off a strong weekend at the Columbia Invitational where she won Flight B singles, allowing just four games in all three of her matches.
In doubles, Yapp-Shing and Eskenazi will look to build upon their 3-0 record together this fall. This past weekend, the duo won the doubles draw at Columbia, allowing just seven games in their three victories together. Rodin will team up with Raghavan for the first time this season. Rodin picked up one victory with Ion this fall, while Raghavan has four wins in doubles, splitting time with Do and Ion.
Speaking of Do and Ion, these two will also be playing their first doubles tournament together this weekend. Ion has three wins in doubles this fall and Do has also won a pair of matches. Last season, Do teamed up with DePaoli and that duo made a run all the way to the semifinals of the Cissie Leary Invitational on the strength of three consecutive victories.
This weekend, DePaoli will try and make another deep run in the tournament with Whitfield as her partner. DePaoli has one win in doubles this season with Yapp-Shing as her partner at the William & Mary Invitational. This will be the first doubles action of the fall for Whitfield. Last season, Whitfield picked up six doubles victories.
In the 2010 Cissie Leary Invitational, Penn captured both the singles and doubles titles. Connie Hsu took home the singles crown, while she teamed up with Alexa Ely to take home the doubles title as well.
Every year, the Cissie Leary Invitational is played in honor of the late Cissie Leary who succumbed to a long battle with scleroderma in November of 1996. 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 local community, spending time with the Fight Against Drugs campaign for underprivileged children and the Greater Philadelphia Kidney Transplant Association. This year's invitational will be the 15th annual tournament in her memory.