With a top-half finish in the Ivy League on the line, Penn women’s tennis rounded out its season on top.
When freshman Sarah Dreyfuss clinched a 4-3 win on Harvard’s court four for Penn, she not only clinched a match, but a close to an impressive season.
Sunday’s match following the previous day’s loss at Dartmouth could be considered the height of the season for Penn (11-9, 4-3 Ivy); with Dreyfuss’ win, Penn toppled Ivy champions No. 49 Harvard (17-8, 5-2 Ivy) in a weekend where the Quakers faced the season’s eventual Ivy co-champions, Harvard and Dartmouth.
The Quakers began what was arguably their toughest road weekend of the season against No. 44 Dartmouth. After dropping the doubles point to the Big Green, Penn began an epic series of singles contests. After two routine, straight-set losses, the Quakers were down 3-0 on the brink of defeat. Still, the Red and Blue would not quit.
Penn found life in No. 1 and No. 6 singles, as sophomore Marta Kowalska and Kana Daniel completed their straight set wins, leaving two hard-fought matches to be played. No. 105 Daniel’s win marked her 67th singles win as a Quaker, and was her last singles victory for Penn as she closed out her career this weekend.
Dreyfuss, facing match point at 5-4, battled back against Dartmouth’s Racquel Lyn to secure a 7-5 third set and level the tie. Unfortunately, an even tighter battle including No. 2 Ria Vaidya went the way of the Big Green and the Quakers fell short of a remarkable comeback.
The very next day found the Red and Blue in Cambridge facing off against the Crimson in a match that would determine the allocation of the Ivy title. Similar to Saturday’s match, the Quakers would once again drop the doubles point to their opponents, leaving Penn behind 1-0 at the start of the tie.
However, Penn started off the singles matches with the momentum, taking the first two matches in straight sets courtesy of Kowalska and junior Lina Qostal. However, with a 2-1 lead, the match would continue to swing as each result came in. A 6-3, 6-3 loss by Vaidya would pull the tie level once more, before freshman No. 3 Ashley Zhu won a 10-8 tiebreak en route to a straight-sets win over the Crimson’s Lexi Milunovich. After a tight three-set loss from Daniel, the tie, level at 3-3, would come down to Dreyfuss.
The Miami native had already proven her grit throughout the season, highlighted by her comeback win the previous day against Dartmouth. In her fifth set of tennis in three days, the freshman pulled out another impressive set of tennis, clinching a must-win 9-7 tiebreak. In the final set of the Quakers’ season, Dreyfuss jumped out to a 4-2 lead, before cruising to a 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-3 victory to clinch the fourth spot in the Ivy standings for the Red and Blue.
While the Quakers head into the offseason, the incredible talents of Daniel and doubles powerhouse Luba Vazehnina depart the team as they approach their graduation. And though the Red and Blue are hindered by their losses, a win like this one leaves a legacy of their strength as players and as competitors.
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