Yarden Odinak’s teammates claim she’s indestructible.
“There’s a running joke on the team that she feels no pain,” teammate and fellow sophomore Pia Trikha said.
But this season, Odinak’s performance has been no joke.
Slotted fourth on the ladder, Odinak is currently undefeated — no small achievement given the stout competition she has faced. In Penn’s loss to Trinity last Saturday, Odinak overcame an 0-2 hole to defeat the No. 14 player in the country.
“Yarden is a really gritty player,” Trikha said. “You can always depend on her for the tough matches.”
To keep her undefeated streak intact, the tough and dependable Odinak will have to live up to that billing on Wednesday, when the Quakers (5-2, 2-1 Ivy) head to Princeton (6-0, 3-0) in a matchup of top-five teams.
In this battle of titans, however, Odinak’s streak won’t be the only one on the line. Trikha also has an unblemished record (7-0) heading into the night.
But while the duo’s season marks are identical, their styles differ.
Odinak’s aggressive play helps to wear out her opponents physically, but Trikha’s game is more methodical.
“She thinks on the court,” Odinak said of Trikha. “Our coach says that, when you play against this player, play like Pia.”
Trikha’s appreciation for the mental component of the game is one of the main reasons why she feels so drawn to the sport.
“You have to have the fitness and the endurance to last, but so much of it relies on how much you can focus and pull out that big point,” Trikha said.
In her freshman campaign, Trikha went 14-2, playing in the eighth and ninth positions on the ladder. Despite moving to the fifth position this season, Trikha has stayed sharp.
“This year I really think I’ve found my comfort zone and was able to start up this season playing as well as I did last year,” Trikha said.
Through seven matches this season, Trikha has dropped just one game.
And yet, despite their differing styles, Odinak and Trikha share a mutual respect that dates back to their high school years.
“I played Yarden multiple times in juniors,” Trikha said. “I’ve never beaten her, but it was always a tough match.”
“Every time I saw Pia’s name on the chalk, I was nervous,” Odinak recalled. “Almost every time we went to four or five games.”
Penn will need strong performances from both players on Wednesday.
“It’s almost a good thing — how the match went on Saturday — because it’s fresh in our minds,” Trikha said of the loss to the Bantams. “We really don’t want to feel that way again.”