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Freshman Sanela Kunovac, shown here against Brown, is the Quakers' top singles player. Against the Bears on April 7, she downed Heather Young, Brown's No. 1, by a score of 6-1, 6-1. (DP File Photo)

It's no mirage. The tennis court has indeed become a battlefield and the once-docile Quakers have transformed themselves into soldiers on a vital mission -- to become the first Penn women's tennis team in history to win an Ivy League title. This weekend Penn will take on both Cornell and Columbia, the only schools in the Ancient Eight that stand in the way of the Quakers' Ivy supremacy. The Red and Blue will meet the Big Red on the road in Ithaca, N.Y., on Friday, which is all the more reason for the Penn team to assume a fighting stance going into the match. Although Cornell was shut out by Yale last weekend, the Big Red beat Dartmouth, 6-1. Penn's win over the Big Green was only by a 5-2 margin. Cornell is currently 2-3 in the Ivy League, and a win against the Quakers would mean a winning season for its squad. "This is a team that has nothing to lose," Penn coach Mike Dowd said of Cornell. "They're going to come out firing." Columbia, which will face the Penn squad at home on Sunday, also deserves recognition as a serious opponent. Last season, the Quakers barely beat the Lions, 5-4. The decisive match was won on a tie breaker. Earlier this season, Columbia played an extremely close match against Cornell, and lost by only one, 4-3. "They're young and they're feisty and they've got some talent," Dowd said about Columbia's squad. In other words, despite its recent winning streak, the Penn team has no room to back off on its intensity. However, according to Penn senior co-captain Shubha Srinivasan, the Quakers' determination is unwavering. "We know that any team can beat us on any given day," Srinivasan said. "We know our intensity will help us." The Quakers have been hacking their way toward the Ivy title all season. Last week's victory over Harvard was Penn's first win against the Crimson in 20 years. "We were dancing on the courts [after the Harvard match]," Srinivasan said. "It was a great feeling for an athlete. I cried so much." These sorts of intense emotions are an asset to the team, according to Penn junior co-captain Jolene Sloat. "I'm nervous," Sloat said, "but I play better when I'm nervous." Sloat also attributes her team's momentum so far this season to the bond it shares as a squad. Like pledging or boot camp, training has drawn the Quakers together to form a tightknit unit. "Our closeness makes us play so much better because we're playing for each other," Sloat said. Sloat is optimistic about this weekend despite a sore back that has been bothering her since the Quakers' March 30 match against Princeton. Dowd also alluded to various "banged-up" knees and shoulders on the Penn squad but noted that the team looked tough in practice this week. The Quakers are ready to continue their mission this weekend. "If we play the way we've been playing we should be able to do this," Sloat said. "But anything can happen."

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