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Sophomore Ria Vaidya played a critical role in Penn women's tennis' win over Maryland on Saturday, helping the squad take the doubles point in addition to a straight-set win in singles play.

Photo: Carson Kahoe

Penn women's tennis knows a thing or two about rallying.

Facing off against longtime rival Maryland, the Red and Blue walked away victorious, 5-2, on Saturday.

“We prepared for it. We were ready for it. And it was so nice to execute the game plan we worked so hard on,” coach Sanela Kunovac said.

For the past six years, the Quakers (5-3) have lost to Maryland (2-7), but after a very successful season thus far, the team was more than ready to take on anything Maryland would throw their way.

“Having been recently ranked and winning four straight, we were pretty confident going into the match,” freshman OJ Singh said.

The squad has had a very successful month of play winning its past four consecutive matches by large margins – a remarkable comeback from its traveling trials in Alabama mid-January. In what was the second-to-last home match before heading into Ivy play, the team fully embraced its home-court advantage.

The Red and Blue have also managed to break into the International Tennis Association's top 75 ranking nationally.

In doubles’ play, the squad came out swinging, dominating all three flights. In the No. 1 flight, senior Sonya Latycheva and junior Kana Daniel easily secured a 6-2 win. The No. 2 team of sophomore Ria Vaidya and freshman Marta Kowalska won their match with a score of 6-1. The Red and Blue dominated the third flight as well, playing into consecutive sets, but the match ended as soon as Penn claimed the doubles point.

“The way we came out of the gates in doubles was [memorable]. We have a lot of respect for Maryland’s doubles teams,” Kunovac said.

“But at some point, across three different courts we were up 14-0 in points, which was just absolutely incredible. And I’m very proud of our team for stepping up like that.”

Singles’ play proved to be tougher competition but the squad stepped up to the challenge.

After a month’s hiatus, Vaidya played her first singles’ match which ended in a two-set victory for the Quakers.

Penn’s Polish champion, Kowalska won an easy two setter, ending the match, 6-1, 6-4.

Daniel intensely played a tough match against Maryland’s Arnelle Sullivan. After a marginal victory of 7-6 (7-3) in her first set, Daniel swept her second set, 6-1.

“She played a great match under tough circumstances,” Singh said.

Sophomore Lina Qostal played overtime into a third set. After suffering a 4-2 loss in her second set, she pulled through earning Penn another point.

During the break, the team will be headed down to Texas to play different schools all across the state. Despite winning five home matches straight, the squad has no qualms about leaving the confines of the Hecht Tennis Center.

“It’s going to be a very important chapter in our season because our Ivy season starts with three away matches,” Kunovac said. “So this will be a very welcomed and just great preparation for us in terms of how we play as a travel team.”

To prepare for Texas and the onslaught of away matches, the Quakers already have a game plan in place.

“We’re going to be trying to hit outside more in Penn Park to prepare. But otherwise, we are going to continue with the plan that we have in place,” Kunovac said.

“We have a process that we are a part of that is extremely good for us.”

As the women look to close out their pre-Ivy play, the men's team will take on Penn State tomorrow in the Hecht Tennis Center.

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