Some things to think about as the Quakersstart the2006 season ...
Penn lost four seniors, including captains, Shelah Chao and Kate Williams, along with Michelle Yeh and Brandy Washington.
The Quakers return six letterwinners from a season ago.
Last season the Red and Blue finished second in the Ivy League, giving them a secon d place or higher finish in each of the past five years.
Julia Koulbitskaya and Yulia Rivelis were named All-Ivy last season. Koulbitskaya earned second-team in singles and doubles. Rivelis was named first-team singles.
Koulbitskaya, Rivelis and Caroline Stanislawski all posted winning records with at least six wins in the fall.
The Quakers finished the spring ranked 57th in the nation by College Tennis Online.
Rivelis was ranked 112th in singles in the fall preseason rankings.
Rivelis (21) and Koulbitskaya (23) are ranked in the top-30 in the East by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
Koulbitskaya and Rivelis combined for 15 wins in the spring playing in the No. 1 and 2 spots.
Stanislawski’s 10 wins last spring are the most among all returners to the Penn lineup.
Stanislawski went 7-4 in the fall. She
advanced to the semifinals in the USTA/NTC Women’s College Tennis Invitational.
Freshman Alexis Plukas won five matches in the fall.
Sophomore Michelle Mitchell was 8-7 playing in the No. 3 and 4 spots last spring.
In doubles action, Raluca Ciochina and Janet Comenos went 5-0 and won the William
& Mary Invitational.
Ciochina and Mitchell return with the most
wins of any doubles team from last season. They picked up six victories a season ago.
Koulbitskaya and Rivelis teamed up to go 4-2 in the fall. They made it to the final of the William & Mary Invitational.
Penn will take on six teams this spring that finished last spring ranked by College Tennis Online.
When they travel to the West coast in March, the Red and Blue will play four teams that were ranked by College Tennis Online in last spring’s final rankings.
Quoting Coach Mike Dowd
On the team’s depth in 2006
“We have 16 people on our roster, it will be one of the deepest teams I’ve had. We lost one starter in singles and two in doubles from last year and we’ve added three new players. Our four, five and six spots have always had our best records, and it very well could be the same this year.”
On his top three spots in singles
“Yulia, Julia and Michelle all have a lot of experience. Yulia and Julia have some nationally-ranked wins and they have a chance to be ranked regionally and nationally. I expect a strong year from Michelle. She will bring leadership and depth in the middle of the lineup.”
The rest of the singles
“Raluca Ciochina is playing back to her form. She’s worked hard in the offseason and is a senior leader on this team. Caroline Stanislawski is one of the fiercest competitiors on the team and had the best singles record on the team last season. Sara Schiffman will be vying for the sixth spot. She motivates this team and keeps everyone focused.”
On the newcomers
“Alexis Plukas and Lauren Sadaka had great fall results. They had some freshman ups and downs, but I think in the spring they’ll both be competing for starting spots.”
“We lost Shelah Chao and Kate Williams, two of our best doubles players from last year, and we’re still working on how to pair the teams. We’ll be doing some experimenting and we’ll really focus on it when we get back in the preseason so people can play together and feel confident.”
On the schedule
“Penn and Harvard have the toughest out-of-league schedules. On our spring break trip all of the teams will be nationally ranked. It should be a challenging schedule, but with our depth we should be ready.”
On the Ivy League
“Harvard is definitley the team to beat. However, they did lose a lot of experienced players, and we have them at home this year. The rest of the teams have a lot of good depth and we’ll have a lot of tough matches. On paper, Harvard, Columbia and Princeton are the toughest teams.”
On assistant coach Amanda Johnson
“She is one of two four-time All-Americans to play at Duke. To have her experience, playing on national championship-level teams, has really pushed these players. It’s great to have her as a part of this program, and I think she could potentially make a difference this year.”
What they learned in the fall
“We learned you can’t take anybody for granted. We had some good wins, but we had some bumps in the road. We had some matches where we didn’t play very tough. We’re going to learn that every match counts, because when you’re playing as a team every point counts.”
On the team’s strengths
“One of our strengths will be our team chemistry. All of the players get along well and they want to win together. I think, as a team, we’re going to be stronger than we were in the individual tournaments in the fall.”
On the team’s goals
“Our goals are to be nationally ranked and to win an Ivy League title and get an NCAA bid. We still have a strong enough schedule and a good enough team to get an at-large bid, regardless of what happens in the League.”
On the grind of the Ivy League schedule
“It can get tough at the end of the year. Injuries and tendonitis always seem to pop up because it’s a long season, but you just have to gut it out. It’s Ivy League play and the intensity is higher.”