Though the Penn men’s and women’s tennis teams achieved mostly mediocre results last year, combining to go 3-11 in Ivy play, there were plenty of happy moments to go around at both the individual level. Let’s go through the Quaker’s top five moments of 2013:
1. Dominant at doubles
Then-sophomore Sol Eskenazi and then-freshman Sonya Latycheva put up a stellar season for the Red and Blue at first doubles. The duo compiled a laundry list of accomplishments, including a 15-3 final record, unanimous first team All-Ivy honors and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Though Eskenazi and Latycheva lost in the first round of NCAAs to Oklahoma State’s Kanyapat Narattana and Malika Rose, 6-4, 6-3, all signs point to a return trip this season.
2. Bye-bye Big Green
Penn men’s tennis knew that defending its perfect 7-0 home record would be tough with No. 70 Dartmouth coming to the Hamlin Tennis Courts. And it took every last bit of effort to keep that record alive for one more day. Then-freshman Blaine Willenborg’s three-set victory at fourth singles clinched a 4-3 match win.
“It was great for us to pick up our first Ivy League win,” coach David Geatz said after the match. “Dartmouth is a ranked team, and to beat them is just phenomenal.”
3. Stellar in the Sunshine State
Penn women’s tennis’ spring break trip to Florida wasn’t just for getting a tan - it was for getting a trio of key victories on the road. The Red and Blue easily handled James Madison, Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast over the course of five days, winning all three matches by a combined score of 15-5.
“This team is really becoming a team of fighters. They have a team cohesiveness that you want to see as a coach,” coach Sanela Kunovac said after the trip. “I’m just really happy how they support each other and push through it.”
4. Six is sweet
Penn men’s tennis finished up 2013 with a sterling 8-2 home record brought on in no small part by a blistering hot streak during nonconference play. In a stretch that spanned nearly a month, the Quakers won six straight contests at home, defeating six different teams from six different conferences.
Then-junior Zach Katz played a critical role, winning four of his five singles matches during the winning streak.
5. Owls? Don’t give a hoot.
Penn women’s tennis was unintimidated by a Mar. 23 home matchup against Big 5 rival Temple, easily sweeping aside the Owls, 7-0. With the win, Penn improved its record to 8-3, good enough for the program’s best start since 2006. Then-sophomore Alex Ion’s easy 6-0, 6-0 win at number five singles was emblematic of the Quakers’ afternoon dominance.
“I believe they had a quiet confidence,” Kunovac said after the match. “It wasn’t in your face, but that was just what we needed.”
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