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Penn women's tennis co-captain Shubha Srinivasan will lead her team into its first Ivy League match of the season today against Princeton. (Stefan Miltchev/DP File Photo)

Even a torrential downpour today couldn't douse the intensity of the Penn women's tennis team as it prepares to face its biggest rival -- Princeton. After having beaten the Tigers last fall in the ECAC championships, the Quakers (9-5, 0-0 Ivy League) are feeling the pressure to repeat the performance in today's 2 p.m. home match. The Princeton (2-4, 0-0) match will be Penn's first Ivy League competition of the season. Penn coach Mike Dowd isn't worried about beginning the Ivy season with the Quakers' rival. He feels that his team is more than prepared for the challenge it is about to face. "The work is done -- all the sprints, all the training, all the team talks," Dowd said. "We just need to put it out on the court." To get the team focused for the upcoming match during Wednesday's team meeting, Dowd emphasized Penn's accomplishments so far this season. He reminded his players of their best moments and encouraged them to put themselves in the same frame of mind that vaulted them over Princeton in the ECACs. "You need to remember how you felt, and play like that on Friday," Dowd said. Penn No. 4 Louani Bascara is impatient for the match to start. "All our work in practice since we stepped on the courts the first day has been for the Ivy season," she said. Having just returned from a team dinner last night, the tone of the junior's voice emanated self-assurance. "We're all pretty relaxed at this point," she said. "We're all confident down the line-up." But the Quakers aren't confident that they know who exactly their Tigers opponents will be today. Though Princeton beat Rutgers on Wednesday with Kristi Watson at No. 1, she may not be matched up against Penn's No. 1, freshman Sanela Kunovac, this afternoon. After today's match against Princeton, the Quakers will have to gear up all over again to host an equally tough Virginia Commonwealth team at noon tomorrow. The Rams are currently ranked No. 53 in the nation, and their No. 1 player, Martina Nedelkova, is ranked No. 4 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Kunovac will have her work cut out for her tomorrow against this top-ranked player, but confidence abounds in the Quakers' camp regardless of the stats of the competition. "They're coming to our house," Dowd said. "We want to slash them."

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