Penn tennis boasts dynamic duo
An unlikely pairing, Jules Rodin and Sol Eskenazi are moving up the national doubles rankings
April 2, 2012, 11:58 pm · Updated April 4, 2012, 12:04 am·
Jing Ran | DP
Sometimes the best news is also the most unexpected.
Though neither player doubted that they were playing well together, the doubles pairing of junior captain Jules Rodin and freshman Sol Eskenazi surprisingly cracked the top 60 Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings. Just a week later, they moved into the top 50 at No. 49.
At No. 1 doubles for the Quakers, Rodin and Eskenazi are 6-2 thus far in the spring season.
“It was kind of unexpected that we were ranked because we weren’t even supposed to play together, really,” Eskenazi said. “But here we are.”
Rodin and Eskenazi seem to come from opposite ends of the tennis spectrum: Rodin, an experienced upperclassman and Philadelphia native; Eskenazi, a rookie who hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rodin began playing tennis seriously when she was 12; Eskenazi, when she was four.
But despite their differences in background and playing style, Rodin and Eskenazi complement each other well on the court.
“With my serve, you’re able to do anything you want,” Rodin said to her partner. “And with your returns, I can do anything I want — our games really are connected.”
Rodin stressed that the key to a successful doubles pairing is communication.
“Each person should be able to help show the other’s strengths,” she said. “Working well together starts with understanding what each person can do really well.”
Both players were also quick to acknowledge the role of the team as a whole in their success as a doubles pair.
“Since we all practice together, since we play against our other doubles teams, that’s really helped us raise our level of play,” Rodin said. “We all help each other improve.”
“The ranking is a team thing,” Eskenazi echoed. “When people say we’re No. 49, it’s kind of like everyone on the team is No. 49, because everyone on the team helped put something into it.”
Another component of Rodin and Eskenazi’s success is their laid-back approach to the demands of school, social life and athletics. As a freshman international student, Eskenazi said she had tough adjustments to make but that tennis was a constant source of mental and physical relief.
“Playing college tennis is hard, being an international is hard, but training every day is actually kind of a relief,” Eskenazi said. “The physical competition is actually kind of a break from the school competition.”
The veteran Rodin’s approach to the balancing act of school and athletics is no different.
“I think I’m used to balancing everything now, but once you start Ivy play, it’s crunch time. You have to be in tip-top shape to really perform,” she said.
Their ranking is a reflction of the pair’s hard work. Although, the duo dropped a tough match to No. 29 Hilary Bartlet and Lindsay Graff of Princeton, they have a chance to rebound. The Quakers will take on Yale and Brown on the road this weekend.
“Yale and Brown are going to be tough for sure, but in a tennis match, anything can happen,” Rodin said. “We just have to put our best effort and our best attitude forward.”
Yale’s doubles pair Hanna Yu and Victoria Brook are currently ranked No. 30 in the latest ITA rankings, but neither Rodin nor Eskenazi expressed any reservations about taking on a higher-ranked pair.
“It was unexpected for us to be ranked in the first place, so we’re pretty happy just where we are,” Eskenazi said. “Obviously we’d like to continue playing like we’re playing, but it doesn’t add any extra pressure to perform.”
Rodin had a simple response.
“We’re just rolling with it and seeing where it takes us.”