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PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania women’s tennis team (10-6, 2-3 Ivy) heads into its final weekend of competition this regular season when No. 65 Columbia (11-5, 4-1) visits Philadelphia on Friday afternoon on Senior Day for a 1:30 p.m. match at Hamlin. Then on Sunday the Quakers will head up to Ithaca, N.Y. for their season finale against Cornell (13-3, 2-3) which is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
The match against the Lions is a big one for Penn, as Columbia is the second-highest ranked Ivy team in the country. The Quakers and Columbia both faced No. 35 Yale (15-2, 4-0) over the last two weekends, and both fell by 5-2 decisions. Additionally, the Lions will provide some of the stiffer competition Penn has seen this season. The Red and Blue currently lead the all-time series with the Lions 25-3.
More specifically, Columbia’s first singles star Nicole Bartnik is currently ranked 64th in the country. She holds an 8-6 overall record this spring, but is a perfect 5-0 in Ivy League matches. Stepping up to meet that task for Penn will be Sol Eskenazi (12-3, 4-1). The sophomore has played all of her matches at first singles, and is currently riding a four-match win streak while winning five of her last six. Penn will look towards Sonya Latycheva (11-4, 3-2) in singles play as well. The freshman has won two straight and nine of her last 11.
Doubles will be competitive as well, although the Quakers will once again be led by their outstanding first doubles duo of Eskenazi and Latycheva (14-1, 5-0) who have compiled a 24-3 overall record together since the fall. The young pair has put together an incredible run, winning 11 matches in a row this spring and are currently ranked 44th in the country. Their only loss came against then-No. 4 Maria Belaya and Jeltje Loomans of William & Mary on Feb. 23. The twosome has faced two Columbia pairs before, defeating Nicole Bartnik and Crystal Leung in the Round of 16 at the ITA Northeast Regional Championships earlier this fall and Bianca Sanon and Kanika Vaidya in the finals.
Friday afternoon’s Senior Day will also mark the final home match for two Quakers, Emma Whitfield and co-captain Jules Rodin. Whitfield has compiled a 4-4 singles record this spring, playing mostly at sixth singles and is undefeated in four third-doubles matches as well. Rodin compiled a 5-3 record in doubles play this spring, playing all of her matches at second doubles before her season came to an end early due to injury.
On Sunday afternoon in Ithaca, Penn will face a reeling Big Red team that his cooled off since Ivy play began. Cornell has lost three of its last five matches and trails the Quakers 31-4 in the all-time series. The Big Red’s three league losses have come against Yale (6-1), Harvard (6-1) and Columbia (7-0). Penn played the Bulldogs close in a 5-2 loss two weeks ago and last weekend fell in a tough 4-3 match at Harvard. The Quakers and Cornell are currently tied for fifth in the Ivies at 2-3.
The Quakers 10 wins are their most since they placed second in the Ivy League in 2007-08 with 11. It is also their best start since they last won the Ivies in 2006-07 with a 17-5 record. Lastly, Penn’s two league wins this season matches their total from each of the last two seasons – one more will be its highest since the 07-08 season.