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As Penn women's tennis heads into Ivy play, they'll need leadership from junior Kana Daniel and senior Sonya Latycheva, who have broken into the ITA rankings at No. 67 in doubles.

Credit: Cindy Chen

They say the enemy of your enemy is your friend, but do not go telling that to either Penn or Princeton women’s tennis when they meet for Ivy openers this weekend.

“The beginning of the Ivy season and the early ones are always the most interesting ones,” Penn coach Sanela Kunovac said.

When the Quakers (7-6) drive to New Jersey to take on the Tigers (8-7), it will not only be a matchup between Ancient Eight opponents, the two teams will also bond over a shared opponent in Rice — which has given both sides a lot to be thankful for this season.

After wins against the Owls in Texas, both Penn and Princeton have carved out spots for themselves in the ITA rankings. Having had an up-and-down spring season thus far, the Red and Blue stopped a three-game slide with a 4-3 win against Rice almost two weeks ago.

That win over the then-No. 54 Rice found the team a No. 75 ranking the week of March 15. A week later, Penn propelled itself to No. 67 with a 5-2 win over St. John’s.

The story for the Tigers is similar but a little sweeter. Last week, an unranked Princeton went into its matchup with a then-No. 46 Rice team, and despite winning with the same 4-3 score as the Quakers did a week earlier, the Tigers were vaulted into the standings at No. 60.

There is no telling who will emerge victorious this weekend, but it looks like the Red and Blue are now beginning to find their stride.

The pair of junior Kana Daniel and senior Sonya Latycheva played their way onto the March 8 version of the ITA doubles rankings at No. 67, winning three of four since March 8, with the only loss coming at the hands of Texas’ No. 13 Breaunna Addison and Dani Wagland.

Needless to say, they will find tough competition in the Tigers. Of the seven teams it lost to, only Harvard was not ranked at the time.

“Princeton are the defending Ivy champs,” Kunoac said. “They know how to win, so our mindset is to respect them but know how good we are, and we’re very good. We’re going to set the tone ourselves.”

History also goes against the Red and Blue. Should the Quakers overtake their rivals this weekend, it will break a seven-game losing streak dating back to 2008. But as this season has shown, one game can make all the difference.

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