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Penn freshman Rachel Shweky notched two singles wins over the weekend, although the Quakers fell to both Penn State and Eastern Michigan. (Will Burhop/DP File Photo)

Perhaps the bar was raised too high. A 3-1 start and a strong showing at the Princeton Invitational had the young Penn women's tennis team confidently predicting an NCAA Tournament berth. The competitive foes of the weekend ahead seemed to pose no challenge as the Quakers were ready to dominate their top-ranked competition. Enter reality. A 5-2 defeat by No. 72 Penn State and a 4-3 loss to Eastern Michigan this weekend have the quixotic Quakers engaging in a precipitous free-fall from Fantasy World. "[Penn State and Eastern Michigan] are two good teams, but we have the potential to beat them," Penn junior captain Jolene Sloat said. "We need to always be ready to compete and this weekend we were not ready." Against the Nittany Lions on Saturday afternoon, the first of the weekend's two matches, the Quakers played seemingly uninspired. Despite the hype surrounding Penn No. 1 Sanela Kunovac's match with Penn State's Pilar Montgomery, Kunovac fell in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6, as Penn lost No. 1 through No. 4 singles. The only singles triumphs were by No. 5 Jolene Sloat, 7-5,7-5, and No. 6 Rachel Shweky, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0. The No. 3 doubles team of Sloat and freshman Nicole Ptak provided the token doubles win, 8-5. Looking to rebound from Saturday's defeat, the Quakers traveled home to face another highly regarded foe, Eastern Michigan, on Sunday. "The team was more prepared [for this match]," Sloat said. But despite their preparation, the Quakers again could not pull out the victory. Faring well in singles, the Red and Blue captured three victories, as No. 1 Kunovac, No.4 Louani Bascara and No. 6 Shweky all defeated their opposition in straight sets. Kunovac won at the first singles spot, 6-4, 6-0, over Rebecca Hawkins, and Bascara topped Amelia Lincaru 6-4, 6-4. Shweky notched the final singles triumph, 6-3, 6-2, over the Eagles' Kendra Clark. A strong singles showing was undone by a doubles shutout, however, as Penn failed to win a doubles match en route to the defeat. What began as a day with a promising outlook degenerated into another loss in a disappointing weekend. Nevertheless, Penn's first bout with adversity this weekend may have a positive effect on the young squad. The Quakers now have a better understanding of the tough road that lies ahead, and have adopted a more pragmatic approach that should serve them well throughout the remainder of the season. "We have a long way to go to reaching our potential and hope that we will peak at the right time," Sloat said. "It is a long season, and this is only the beginning."

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