Through yet another tough weekend on the road, the Penn women’s tennis team juggled through uncertainty and emerged with two conference victories against Brown and Yale.
“The temperature was between playing indoors and outdoors, and we didn’t know where we would play until 45 minutes beforehand,” head coach Sanela Kunovac said, “but the girls played beautifully. From the practice on [last] Monday, I knew that they were going to do great. I’m very proud of them.”
The Quakers (12-8, 2-1 Ivy) traveled to Providence, R.I., on Saturday to face Brown (6-12, 0-3) and then ventured to New Haven, Conn., to take on Yale (11-8, 2-1) on Sunday. The Quakers shined both match days with dominating performances in singles and doubles.
Although the freshman duo Gavriella Smith and Saige Roshkoff suffered a 6-2 defeat to open the match day at Brown, the Quakers made a strong comeback, as the other two doubles pairs — graduate student Marija Curnic and senior Iuliia Bryzgalova and freshmen Eileen Wang and Sabine Rutlauka — claimed wins and secured the doubles point.
The Red and Blue then went all out on the singles: Smith, Roshkoff, and Rutlauka tallied three consecutive victories, ending the day with a perfect 4-0 win. Smith took down her opponent with two straight 6-0 sets, marking the highlight of the day.
The following day, the Red and Blue faced the Bulldogs in the neighboring state, this time coming in as the underdogs. Yale came into the matchup ranked No. 62 in women's collegiate tennis, while Penn was unranked.
Opening the doubles matches, Rutlauka and Wang took down their opponents 6-1, but junior Amanda Chan and sophomore Ekaterina Vinnik fell short after a tough 7-5 set. Curnic and Bryzgalova, who rank at No. 81 on the ITA women's collegiate doubles rankings, appeared last and defeated their opponents 6-4, claiming the doubles point for the team.
In the singles matches shortly afterward, Rutlauka secured a point for the Quakers with 6-1 and 6-2 sets. Curnic and Smith each won their respective matches, securing the victory for the Red and Blue. Yale’s Vivian Cheng outplayed Roshkoff 6-3, 6-2, gaining the only point for the Bulldogs. The team left New Haven triumphantly with a 4-1 win.
Penn will play four more matches to conclude the season in the coming two weeks. Up next, the Quakers will return to their home courts after three consecutive away matches, as they'll take on Dartmouth this Saturday at 1 p.m. and then Harvard on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“We are in the hunt for the Ivy title,” Kunovac said, “but there are also dangers, especially the matches this weekend.”
Currently, the team is tied for second in the Ivy League standings behind the Crimson, and the matches on Sunday will be crucial to see if the Quakers can make up the half-game difference.