Heading into this past weekend's Brown Invitational, the Penn women's tennis team really didn't know what to expect. With the important ECAC Tournament looming large on the horizon, it was hard to guess how the Quakers would react. Would they look past this tournament? Use it as a tune-up? Or simply go out and dominate? Behind the strong, veteran leadership of junior Louani Bascara, that question was very clearly answered. Penn won the B, C and D singles flights, as well as the C flight on the doubles side. Bascara led the way, going undefeated in all eight of her matches in winning the B flight singles, and teaming with Shubha Srinivasan for the C flight doubles title. "[Bascara] looks like a veteran," Penn coach Michael Dowd said. "She is a veteran, and she looks like she is stepping up and ready to take it to the next level." Bascara, a starter since her freshman year, was not the only standout for the Red and Blue. Niki DeCou was victorious in flight D, and Jolene Sloat won the flight C singles draw. Sloat's victory was one of the most exciting of the tournament. Down 6-7, 0-3, she went on to win six consecutive games in taking the second set, and then was triumphant 10-6 in the third set tie-break to finish the match. "[We] dominated the tournament," Sloat said. "I think there are always things to work on, but in this tourney everyone just did a great job, everyone was mentally focused and everyone worked hard for every point. I am really proud of everybody." The Quakers were strong from the beginning. Winning 18 of 20 matches on the first day provided the start the women needed to propel themselves to the great finish. In addition to all of the victors, Nicole Ptak was the flight B runner up and Carla Dorsey won the third-place match in the D flight. But in the end, this was Bascara's show. She defeated Ptak in the B flight finals, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, and teamed with Srinivasan to knock off one of Princeton's doubles teams, 8-2, in their prorated finals match. "Being able to play and perform as I did was something that made me happy," Bascara said. "It shows a lot as to how we can possibly be performing next weekend at the ECACs." And seemingly immediately after the Quakers' success at the Invitational, they showed their undying thirst for more by shifting focus to next weekend's tournament. "I am really looking forward to [the ECACs]," Sloat said. "We have the potential to go through this tournament and win a lot of matches." Dowd echoed her statements. The coach believes his team, which will be ranked fourth out of 16 teams in the tournament, has "got a shot to win it." This ranking, which is the highest for the Quakers during Dowd's tenure, coupled with the team's great performance at Brown, seems to have greatly boosted team morale and confidence. With the veteran's poise she has shown throughout this season, however, Bascara remained cautiously optimistic in her comments. "I think the difference between this weekend and next is how we work together as a team, since it is a dual match," Bascara said. "I don't like to throw out predictions, [but] I'm going to have to say they are going to have to watch out for us." If any members of the opposition caught wind of Bascara's weekend performance, they would be foolish not to.Comments powered by Disqus
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