Back in the Ivy win column
Quakers top Cornell and Columbia for first Ivy wins in two years
April 18, 2011, 4:14 am · Updated April 17, 2011, 12:00 am·
The women’s tennis team finished its season this weekend on a high note, ending with two consecutive Ivy League victories — two more than it had all last season — over Cornell Friday and Columbia Sunday.
After losing the doubles point against Cornell, the Quakers charged into singles play. Clutch performances from freshmen Connie Hsu, Jaime Yapp-Shing and Stephanie Do, as well as senior captain Alexa Ely, eventually helped down the Big Red, 4-3.
With their first Ivy victory under their belt, the Red and the Blue returned home for their final match of the season against Columbia on Senior Day, taking the match, 5-2.
Penn (8-13, 2-5 Ivy) jumped out to an early lead by winning the doubles point in convincing fashion. The senior-freshman duo of Ely and Hsu showed its mettle once again, picking up the win, 8-4, and improving to a perfect 7-0 in Ivy play.
The pair of Yapp-Shing and sophomore Jules Rodin played the most dramatic of the doubles matches, with the match tied at six before the Quakers scored the final two points to take the doubles point.
Penn’s dominance continued into singles play, with the Red and Blue winning four out of the six matches, and none going into the third set. Hsu completed her sweep of the Ivies with a convincing victory over the Lions (9-13, 0-7).
The two victories mark the end of the team’s season, settling them into the number six spot in the league. After a tough Ivy season that included matches against five nationally-ranked opponents, the wins serve as validation for both the players and coaches.
“We played well during the Ivy season, and it’s nice to get some ‘W’s to reflect that,” coach Sanela Kunovac said.
After dropping its first five Ivy matches against ranked opponents, the team was eager to take that experience and use it against the weaker Cornell (9-11, 1-6) and Columbia squads.
“We actually had closer matches than it looked with the higher-ranked Ivy teams and that gave us a lot of confidence,” Ely said. “We knew we were capable of winning a lot of those matches. Instead of letting it discourage us, we trained a little bit harder and knew that the teams were going to get weaker and that we had opportunities to take advantage of what we learned.”
With only two seniors on the squad and four freshmen, the duo of Ivy wins this year is even more encouraging, and a sign of possible things to come. For Kunovac, however, the end of the season comes with a tempered optimism.
“It’s still not good enough for me because we still have a losing record,” she said. “But we are moving in the right direction.”