The Penn women’s tennis team will begin conference play at the end of this month, but before the team sets its sights on Ivy League opponents, it has one last nonconference match: crosstown rival Temple.
This afternoon, the Quakers will host the Owls at the new Hamlin Tennis Center in Penn Park at 4 p.m.
In recent seasons, the two squads have been fairly evenly matched — the two programs have split the last four head-to-head matchups.
The Owls (6-8) enter the matchup looking to follow up a victory over Xavier. Temple has managed a more than one match consecutively just once this season.
The Red and the Blue (5-5) are aiming to end nonconference play on a high note. After today, the Quakers will hit the road for the three straight matches to open Ivy competition — their next home match isn’t until April 14.
While conference play is the heart of any team’s schedule, the Quakers aren’t overlooking this afternoon’s meet.
Stephanie Do, a sophomore who has played second singles and third doubles in Penn’s past three matches, noted that, apart from the Ivies, this is the Quakers’ biggest matchup and coach Sanela Kunovac concurred.
“We know each other probably more than almost any other team,” Kunovac said.
“We know their returning players. On the flip side, they know all our returning players.”
While that’s true, apart from a scrimmage earlier this year, the Owls haven’t seen freshman Sol Eskenazi, who has played at first singles and doubles for the past three matches. Combining singles and doubles, Eskenazi is 6-0 over that span.
Eskenazi and junior Jules Rodin are currently ranked as the 55th-best doubles pair in the nation. With only one loss this season, they have proved to be a formidable duo atop the Penn doubles ladder.
Penn’s conference schedule opens at Princeton, a team that has been ranked in the top 50 for most of the year. It’s always a boost to head into conference play with momentum, but it would be especially helpful against an archrival.