As the Penn women’s tennis team’s Ivy League losing streak continues, they are learning firsthand from talented opponents how to gut out close victories in conference play.
Friday, the women fell, 5-2, to No. 28 Yale (16-4, 1-1) and Saturday, they bowed to No. 43 Brown (13-6, 2-0) by a 6-1 margin. The games mark Penn’s seventh and eighth consecutive Ivy losses — dating back to last year — but were much harder fought than the final overall scores indicate.
Penn (6-11, 0-3) lost, 8-6, at No. 2 doubles against Yale at Lott Courts and fell in three sets at No. 2 and No. 4 singles. A year ag,o the Quakers forced only one three-set match in both 7-0 shutout losses to Yale and Brown combined.
“Yale’s very confident in themselves, and they don’t shy away from being in a close, tight position,” coach Sanela Kunovac said. “A lot of teams don’t want to be at three-all, don’t want to be in that match. I think our team is learning we want that. And Yale is a team that’s proven they want it always.”
Captain Alexa Ely agreed that the team seems to be on the cusp.
“Honestly, the Princeton game could have went either way, we had a couple of close ones against Yale, and against Brown we had two three-setters and one almost three-setter that would have made a huge difference,” Ely said.
“It’s hard to say, but maybe a little bit more belief that we have it as a team in all of these close matches would help,” she added.
That belief may be coming, but freshman Jaime Yapp-Shing showed that the resistance is already there.
Yapp-Shing appeared visibly frustrated after her Brown opponent, Bianca Aboudakare, made two questionable line calls early in the match against her. Yapp-Shing recovered to extend the match after losing the first set, though she fell to Aboudakare in a match tiebreak.
“It’s not the first time that [Brown] has made some tight calls,” Kunovac said. “I was extremely pleased with her response. I honestly didn’t see the controversy affect her.”
So as the losses build, the team’s experience and confidence grow as well.
“Yale and Brown are ranked higher than they were last year, so everybody in the league is getting better, not just us,” Kunovac said. “So when we got blown away last year, they were not even close to this good. At four out of the six spots, we’re playing freshmen. We’re catching up quickly.”