A loss to open the conference schedule hurts — especially when it comes at the hands of an archrival.
On Saturday afternoon, Penn women’s tennis fell to Princeton, 6-1, to open its Ivy League schedule and a three-match road trip.
Penn’s only win came from freshman Sol Eskenazi, who is anchoring the team at No. 1 on the ladder.
Eskenazi came out on fire in the first Ivy singles matchup of her career, toppling the Ivy’s top-ranked player, senior No. 96 Hilary Bartlett, in straight sets. Bartlett, a three-time first-team All-Ivy selection, was named Ivy League Player of the Year two years ago.
“To be asked to play No. 1 as a freshman — it’s a very tough task,” coach Sanela Kunovac said.
But Eskenazi has stepped up, winning each of her last five matches as Penn’s No. 1 singles player to improve to 8-1 at singles on the year.
“[To] see the fight in her pumps us up,” said junior Jules Rodin, Eskenazi’s doubles partner.
Despite some of the other matches being contentious on paper, the Tigers proved to be too much for the Quakers overall.
Before her win in singles, Eskenazi got off to a rocky start, as she and Rodin lost their doubles match to the No. 29 pair of Bartlett and Lindsay Graff. The loss marked only the second defeat this season for the No. 49 doubles partners.
Kunovac noted that her team had practiced really well in the week leading up to the match, and that their work was apparent on the court.
Despite that effort, on Saturday the Tigers were the better team, she said.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, both Kunovac and Rodin think the Red and the Blue are on the right track.
It comes down to the fact that “tennis is a game of matchups,” Kunovac said.
“If the matchups are favorable to us, and we’re playing well, like we are so far, I don’t think any team [will comfortably] go through us.”
Penn’s next match won’t be any easier, as they travel to New Haven, Conn., to take on No. 26 Yale.
Nonetheless, as Kunovac pointed out, if the matchups pit Penn players with strengths that attack specific weaknesses of each Yale player, anything can happen.