PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania’s women’s tennis team is set to open Ivy League play this Saturday against rival, Princeton, at the Lott Tennis Courts at 12 p.m.
The Quakers are now 10-4 overall, and ranked No. 57 in the country after dropping from their highest position of No. 36 in February. Penn is currently the highest ranked Ivy League team, with Dartmouth at No. 63, with an 8-4 record, and Princeton coming in No. 72.
Over their spring break, the Quakers won the San Diego Invitational, beating No. 68 St. Mary’s, and the University of San Diego. The Quakers had their first match this Saturday in two weeks after the spring break trip, where they fell to their highest-ranked opponent of the year, No. 12 William and Mary, 0-7. The Red and Blue bounced back the next day, however, beating Old Dominion 5-2.
Assistant coach Sara Schiffman is eager to jump into the most exciting part of the season.
“We have competed against some of the best teams in the nation, which has been great preparation for the next seven Ivy League matches,” Schiffman said. “We have also been practicing and training hard, and are very excited for the final stretch of the season.”
Last year, Penn came in second in the Ivy League, with their only loss coming to Harvard. Because of their strong conference play, the Quakers were rewarded with an at-large bid to participate in the NCAA Tournament in Atlanta, Ga. Penn had a successful run, upsetting No. 30 Tennessee in the first round, before loosing to the number one seed, Georgia Tech. This year, the Quakers are looking to surpass last year’s performance. Their eyes are set on the Ivy League title.
The first match against Princeton is the perfect test for the Quakers. This year, Princeton added three freshmen to their starting line-up, creating the team to beat. Last year, Penn opened their Ivy League play at Princeton, beating the Tigers, 6-1. The match was a tough one for Penn to pull away with, as three of the matches went to the third set. This year, however, the Quakers hope it won’t be as close, and plan to use the home court setting to their advantage.
Junior co-captain Julia Koulbitskaya is confident in her team this year.
“I think that we have more depth in our lineup than in the previous years,” Koulbitskaya said. “We have players that are used to playing on a high level, and players that hate to lose and will stay out there all day. I also think that depth gives us more variety in matching up against other schools, in singles or in doubles, and that is definitely a strength that not many schools have.”
The women’s tennis team has been working diligently this season, to bring Ivy glory back to Penn women’s tennis. The last time the Quakers held sole possession of the Ivy League title was with back-to-back wins in 2001 and 2002. If last year’s success is any indication, the Tigers are in trouble this weekend.
The match is scheduled to begin at noon at the Lott Tennis Courts in front of The Palestra. In case of rain, the match will be held indoors at the Levy Tennis Pavilion, located at 3130 Walnut Street behind The Palestra. Admission is free, and all Penn fans in attendance will receive a free t-shirt and Lorenzo’s pizza.
By Maria Anismova, W'10