Penn women’s tennis has had a troubled year, but at least it had a dependable captain and a strong anchor to navigate it through its darkest storms and its testiest waters.
After finishing off an injury-plagued nonconference schedule with a formidable 7-4 record, the Quakers couldn’t keep up the tempo. Penn fizzled out during Ivy play, suffering six straight losses — the last of which was an obliteration at the hands of Columbia.
But in its only conference win of the year in the team’s last match, the squad counted directly on the heroic play of its departing seniors, Jaime Yapp-Shing and Stephanie Do , to tip the scale in Penn’s favor and defeat Cornell, 5-2.
It was the Senior Day swan song the Red and Blue were hoping for, ending with a bittersweet celebration for the seniors, exchanges of grateful tears and teammates leaping into each other’s arms.
Not even coach Sanela Kunovac “[would] have scripted it any differently.”
Now, with Do and Yapp-Shing leaving, the Quakers will brace themselves for a major upheaval.
Yapp-Shing has been an anchor in the roster and a veritable force to be reckoned with. Though injuries have punctuated her play, the Florida native competed well at the No. 4 position in singles play, and she wreaked havoc at the No. 2 spot in the doubles lineup, finishing with a 10-4 record.
Meanwhile, Do has been a mainstay on the team for four years, earning second- team All-Ivy honors as a sophomore.
Rounding out the singles lineup at No. 6 and playing at the No. 3 spot in doubles play, she boasted 9-9 and 8-8 final year records, respectively.
Depending on the freshmen next season brings and where star junior Sol Eskenazi’s potential takes her, the Quakers won’t necessarily suffer devastating setbacks in talent or production on the court.
Rather, it will be the veteran voices that Yapp-Shing and Do have provided to steady the team through turbulent times that will be sorely missed.
“We will definitely miss their leadership,” assistant coach Filip Kricka said. “The work ethic they put in every practice, the level of commitment, the pride they show for Penn Tennis day in and day out — you would want every Penn athlete to have these qualities.”
With Do serving as team captain in her junior year and Yapp-Shing as a team representative, they have been the face and emotional core of the resilient squad and, more importantly, an extended voice of the coaching crew for rookies.
“They always served as an example to the rest of the team,” Kricka said. “It was easy for me to say to an underclassman: ‘Talk to Stephanie or Jaime. They have lots of experience. They will be able to give you the best answer.’
“And they always did.”
Employers will be lucky to have these Wharton grads as leaders in their offices.
This summer, Do will pack her bags and return to her hometown of Dallas, where she’ll work as a consultant for Bain Capital, while Yapp-Shing will return to Philadelphia this fall to finish up her degree before setting sail for a career abroad.
For now, they’ll reminisce about the times shared with their teammates.
“At the end of the day and at the end of it all, there is the immense satisfaction, the hundreds of memories and the incredible people you meet along the way,” Do said in an email.
“My team is my family ... No one can just be my teammate. Anyone can be my friend and anyone can stop being my friend. But sorry, my teammates will always be my teammates.”
But, true to form, they’ll have to impart some wisdom to their successors before they part.
“Without a doubt, I did not achieve every goal that I set for myself or those that I set with our coaches and we did as a team,” Do said. “But I sure as hell enjoyed the ride and define my experience and myself by all of those moments.”
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.