PHILADELPHIA The non-conference portion of the schedule is over for the Penn women’s tennis team as Ivy League matches start with a trip to Princeton on Saturday at noon. Penn is the defending Ivy champions and will be looking for their first back-to-back outright Ancient Eight championships since 2001-2002. The Quakers captured last year’s title with a perfect Ivy League record of 7-0.
The Quakers (5-6) have been on the road since February 15th and will not return to home courts until April 11th against Harvard. Over that span, Penn will have played 12 matches in six states against some of the top teams in the country. Eight of the Red and Blue’s road matches will have been against ranked schools.
While Penn’s record on the road trip so far stands at 3-6, those numbers are misleading. All six loses have come at the hands of teams ranked higher than the Quakers and includes a four-match stretch in California that saw the Quakers drop close 4-3 matches.
Princeton (7-6) has faced a similar away schedule, also having played seven nationally ranked teams in the past two months, defeating #55 Illinois on their spring break trip to Puerto Rico.
This ancient rivalry also opened last season’s Ivy League play for both teams, with Penn emerging victorious with a 5-2 win. In 2006, the Quakers defeated Princeton, 6-1.
The top of the lineup should feature a rematch between two sophomores - Penn’s #103 Ekaterina Kosminskaya and Princeton’s #70 ranked Melissa Saiontz. Princeton has a new look in 2008, having added five freshmen to this year’s lineup, Penn is boasting a virtually unchanged lineup from last season’s Ivy championship team.
The Quakers have recently broken back into the ITA rankings at #72 after last weekend’s win over Marshall University. Princeton is also ranked, sitting at #64. Both schools are looking up at the highest-ranked Ivy school, Dartmouth. The Big Green are currently ranked #51.