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Quakers sophomore Niki DeCou and the Penn women's tennis team swept Army and Drexel, but were narrowly beaten by Virginia, 4-3, this weekend. (Will Burhop/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

The first weekend of the season was a test for the Penn women's tennis team -- three matches in two days against a trio of formidable foes in Army, Virginia and Drexel. It was the first major test for the Quakers, at the beginning of a very competitive schedule that will have the team face eight teams that are currently higher in the ITA rankings. At the weekend's conclusion, it was a test that the Quakers passed decisively. Despite losing a close, 4-3 match to a very tough Virginia team, the Quakers (3-1) shut out Army and Drexel, 7-0, proving that they are ready to compete at a top level of competition. After the weekend's strong showing, Penn coach Michael Dowd seemed rather pleased with the team's performance. "We looked very intense and didn't get lazy or lose our focus or concentration," Dowd said of his squad's two victories over Army and Drexel. Dowd also put a positive spin on the Quakers' close loss to Virginia, a team which has dominated Penn in recent years. The Red and Blue have never won a match in five attempts against the Cavaliers. "The match was a war," Dowd said. "Each time we play them, we keep getting closer." The weekend was also significant because it continued to give Penn's young team -- which features just two seniors -- more experience against high-caliber opponents. And the Quakers' young guns did not disappoint. Leading the way, freshman Rachel Shweky won all of her matches on the weekend in both singles and doubles. Posting a pair of shutout victories and a very strong showing against a top-ranked opponent, the Quakers have an auspicious beginning to a season that Dowd hopes will culminate in an Ancient Eight championship. "Our goal is to win the Ivy League title," Dowd said. "We can do it this year."

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