Kana Daniel and Penn women's tennis have high expectations on the court this season. This weekend, they'll get the chance to back them up.
Penn (0-2) hosts Temple (3-2) this Saturday at 1 in the Hecht Tennis Center.
In a brutal doubleheader to open the spring season last weekend, the Quakers fell to both No. 11 Georgia Tech and No. 20 Kentucky by a score of 4-0 in Atlanta, Ga., but the final scores didn't quite reflect how competitive the Red and Blue were.
“All the matches were really close and show that the belief was there, that we are really close to beating teams that are top-10 or top-20 ranked in the country,” senior Kana Daniel said.
“We just need that little extra belief in us when the score gets tighter, when the match gets a little closer, and I think that only improves with experience,” Daniel added.
Meanwhile, Temple is coming off a 2-1 performance at the VCU Invite last weekend. The Owls defeated Morgan State 5-0 and Longwood 5-0, but fell to VCU 2-3.
Temple also travels to Villanova on February 3, meaning the Owls will have to face Penn in the second half of a doubleheader.
If last season is any indication, then the Owls' already difficult task will be made even more daunting by the recent dominance of Daniel. The senior was named first-team All-Ivy in singles and doubles in 2015-16, and has continued her success further this fall, with records of 9-4 in singles, and 6-3 in doubles with freshman Ashley Zhu.
“The fall season has been a good learning experience for the whole team. We all started really strong as a team,” Daniel added.
Saturday’s match against Temple will be the first home match of the season.
“Playing home is more comfortable, you practice on the courts pretty much every day," Daniel said. "For example, we played at Georgia Tech this last weekend and the courts were slower and the conditions are different."
With Daniel leading the charge, the Quakers have five of their six returning starters from last season, giving the team some high expectations this time around.
“We played some top schools in the country and we are really looking to win the Ivies this year," Daniel said. "That’s the big goal."
Princeton finished at the top at 5-2 in the Ivy League last season, while Penn, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Columbia tied for next at 4-3.
And even as Daniel approaches graduation and a potential new journey in the professional tennis circuit, the senior's focus is entirely on boosting the Red and Blue to new levels.
“Personally, I look forward to playing professionally after I graduate," Daniel said, "but my one goal for the team is to be able to win the Ivy League title and to make it to the NCAA tournament — and hopefully win a few rounds there as well."