Coming off of a tough four-match split last weekend, the Penn women's fencing team gets no reprieve tomorrow when Harvard and St. John's come to Weightman Gym for a tri-meet. This is the team's last regular-season home meet of '98. The Quakers (7-5, 0-2 Ivy League) start at 10 a.m. against Harvard (7-2, 3-0), and after a bye round, face St. John's early in the afternoon. "We need to beat Harvard," coach Dave Micahnik said. "We'd like to beat St. John's, but we need to beat Harvard." Harvard is coming off a second-place Ivy finish a year ago. The Crimson handled the Quakers rather easily, 22-10, last year, so a victory in tomorrow's match will by no means be an easy task. An interesting aspect of the Quakers-Crimson matchup will be a sibling rivalry. Harvard captain and senior foil Jill Katz is the older sister of Penn sophomore foil Margo Katz. "It'll be an intense bout.? There will be pressure from my team to win," said the Quakers' Katz. "I'll be nervous, but I'm definitely going to try harder." When they met in last year's meet, the elder Katz came back to win 5-4. The two met again last summer at the Maccabiah Games -- a "Jewish Olympics" held in Israel the year after every Summer Olympics -- with Penn's Katz prevailing. In addition to Katz, a first team All-Ivy and second team All-American in '97, the Crimson feature strong epees in junior Valerie Uzzell and senior Meredith Trauner. Uzzell was on the Junior Olympic team in '95 and '97, while Trauner has gone to the NCAA regionals the past two years. Once the morning match with Harvard is over, the road doesn't get any easier for the Quakers. The St. John's match promises to be as difficult as the Harvard one, if not more so. The Red Storm feature a strong epee in senior Nicole Dygert. "Their epee drove us crazy last year," Micahnik said. "[St. John's] are strong and deep. We have to take them very seriously." Facing loaded foil squads on the latter two teams, the Quakers' foil didn't put up numerically impressive results. The team is still confident, though, headed into tomorrow. "We've put Yale behind us," said foiler Katz. "We can't think about another match when we're out there fencing." In the Quakers recent matches, close individual bouts have been the norm. Unfortunately, the Quakers have come up on the wrong end of many of these decisions. At this second-to-last meet of the year, the Quakers need to be the stronger team, both mentally and physically, if they are to win either of their weekend matches.
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How quickly things change. The Penn women's fencing team went into Saturday's home meet with Yale upbeat, courtesy of winning its final four matches last weekend. A day and a half and two tough losses later, the Quakers left yesterday's meet at Temple less enthused, with just a .500 record for the weekend. On Saturday, at home in Weightman Gym, the Quakers (7-5, 0-2) fell to the undefeated Eli (7-0, 3-0) 19-13. Facing a tough Yale foil squad, Penn simply did not show up -- losing 13-3. Sophomore Margo Katz was the only Quaker fencer able to win a single bout, coming one point from a personal 4-0 sweep. The epee, in contrast, prevailed over their Yale counterparts. But the 10-6 margin of victory was not enough to turn the overall outcome in the Quakers' favor. Senior Emmy Cho went 4-0 and senior captain Olivia Leon won three of her four bouts in pace the way, limiting Yale All-American Whitney Anderson to a 2-2 record on the day. "We've fenced these teams for so many years, we know their fencers and their styles and what we're in for," senior captain Olivia Leon said. "It was still a fight for every point." Coming off of their second Ivy loss late Saturday -- and a tough one at that -- it seemed to drain the Quakers. Yesterday morning, in their third meet this season decided by a single point, the Quakers came up short for the second day in a row, losing to Temple 17-15. "It really did come down to the last bout," Penn head coach Dave Micahnik said. "I was unhappy with this weekend. It was not helpful [for the post-season] at all." Facing Temple to start off the quad-meet on Sunday, luck was not on the Quakers' side. Senior foil Cindy Kwan was forced out of three of her four matches with a lingering wrist injury. "Once Cindy was taken off, she did a great job of coaching the foil team," Leon said. The depleted Quaker foil squad, however, still faltered for the second straight day, losing their half of the meet 11-5, while the epee came through with a solid 10-6 margin of victory. Leon and freshman Kari Coley both went 3-1 en route to the epee squad's win. "It was a question of one point going one way," said Cho. "The team had several 5-4 losses." Following two tough defeats at the hands of Yale and Temple, the Quakers were happy to see two less experienced teams across the strip at the end of yesterday's quad-meet. The Quakers handled Johns Hopkins with relative ease, 24-8, and crushed Fairleigh Dickinson 27-5 to leave yesterday's meet with a 2-2 for the weekend. Against Johns Hopkins and FDU, the epee squad continued their fine display. Penn's stronger half went 13-3 against Hopkins and 14-2 against FDU. The foil went a respectable 11-5 and 13-3 in those matches. Cho, described as a "Yale-killer", went 13-2 for the epee over the two days and was a highlight of an otherwise mediocre weekend. Katz picked up three wins in all four matches, going 12-4 overall. "Everyone tried, and everyone gave 110 percent," Leon said. "Hopefully we can continue to do this, and win."
Yale, which is known as an aggressive team, will have plenty spirit with it in West Philadelphia. Fresh off a 4-1 showing in a multi-meet at Penn State last Saturday, the Penn women's fencing team looks to continue its success in two important meets this weekend. Tomorrow, the Quakers (5-3, 0-1 Ivy League) try to erase their losing record in the Ivy League in a home match in Weightman Gym against Yale. On Sunday, the team travels across town to a multi-meet at Temple to fence the Owls, Johns Hopkins and Fairleigh Dickinson. Yale (6-0, 2-0) soundly defeated the Quakers last year, 22-10, en route to its Ivy League title. The Elis have continued their winning ways so far this season, winning each of their six meets handily. Yale defeated common opponent NYU in December, 27-5, while the Quakers won their match last Saturday, 21-11. Yale has soundly defeated league foes Cornell (26-6), and Columbia (19-13) so far in '97-'98. In last week's win over the Lions, Yale's foilers lost, 10-6, but the epees crushed Columbia, 13-3. Regardless of the score break-down, Quakers coach Dave Micahnik maintains that "Yale has a stronger foil [than epee]. They go six people deep for their four spots." The Elis' foil squad, led by junior Katharine Zuckerman and senior Alison Calabia, went 15-1 against NYU and swept Cornell, 16-0. Yale's epees are no slouches either, featuring a first team All-American in sophomore Whitney Anderson, and a first team All-Ivy pick in senior Sharon Katz. "They are definitely a strong team, especially Zuckerman and Calabia," Penn sophomore foil Amy Hozer said. "With their being an Ivy League opponent, there's already a big school rivalry." There is added emphasis on tomorrow's match with Yale because of the tight standings in the Ivy League this year. Penn already has an 0-1 Ivy record courtesy of a 16-16 tiebreaker loss to Princeton in December. While having this crucial league meet take place at home is a help for the Quakers, it does not really give the team more of a boost than last weekend's success already brought to them. "We really pulled together," said Hozer in reference to the Quakers' four straight wins last Saturday. Not to be taken lightly either, is the multi-meet Sunday at Temple. The Quakers fence Temple at 10 a.m., followed by Johns Hopkins and Fairleigh Dickinson at 90-minute intervals later in the day. Temple, much like the Quakers, is coming off of a successful weekend. In a multi-meet at Northwestern, the Owls went 6-1, including a victory over North Carolina. The Quakers' first win this year came over the Tar Heels by a score of 18-14. In 1996, the Owls lost 18-14 to the Quakers. Temple returns nine of 10 fencers, including senior foil Marisa Barnes-Hopkins who went 4-0 against Penn, from a 16-7 team a year ago. They will also feature a strong freshman foil in Jamie Beecher. "Temple is the strongest of the three [on Sunday]," Micahnik said. "I expect no worse than a split for the weekend, and three wins would be great." The Red and Blue has not faced Johns Hopkins in nearly 10 years, but since they last met, the Blue Jays have hired a new coach and have revamped their fencing style. The Quakers did not meet FDU last year, but won the match between the teams two years ago. "Last weekend's matches were confidence builders in any respect," Micahnik said. "Our attitude now is pretty good, and we're feeling ready."
A strong challenge awaits the Penn women's fencing team at tomorrow's multi-meet at Penn State University. In a one-day event that constitutes a third of their season, the Quakers (1-2, 0-1) will face five very competitive teams within a nine-hour span. The Quakers will face Stanford at 8:30 a.m., followed by Haverford, Air Force, Duke and New York University in 90-minute intervals beginning at 11:30 a.m. Since Penn St. and the Quakers have a regularly scheduled meet later this season, the two will not face off in this competition. The powerful Cardinal foil team roster lists one Olympian, Felicia Zimmerman, and two other very strong fencers, Monique de Bruin and Uta Breden. "Facing Stanford first will be tough," said coach Dave Micahnik. "If we win, it'll be wonderful, but if not, it'll still be a great warm-up for the rest of the day." Micahnik continued, "Air Force tends to have less experience, and works within a system.? Haverford is inexperienced as well." NYU was the only one of the five teams Penn faced last year. The Quakers ended up on the losing side of an 18-14 decision. The fencing team, which suffered two disappointing close defeats in its three match multi-meet in December, is out trying to improve its consistency. Junior Anastasia Gromulska and sophomore Margo Katz, who went a combined 20-4 in the foil in that first meet, will be relied upon to do well against some substantially stronger competition. "Expectations will certainly be higher now for our foil," Micahnik commented, adding that "the team outcome as a whole will depend on who we fence, not just which event." The epee will need to step up as well, especially against Stanford and Duke. In light of the strength of the Cardinal's foil team, this is the event where Penn must come through. Duke is a similar team to North Carolina, whose epee defeated Penn 9-7. Though the epee didn't fair well, the final result was a 18-14 Quakers victory. A help to the epee may come in the form of freshman Kari Coley. Coley, who was ineligible for the first meet of the season, is coming off a 10th place finish in a Junior World Cup event over winter break. Also over break, the Red and Blue held a six-day camp after the New Year to help the team train and prepare for its upcoming meets. Most of the men's and women's teams spent four hours a day together on the fencing strip. "We fenced everyone who came in," said senior foil Cynthia Kwan, adding that, "I'm pretty impressed with our work over the past week." However, unlike in years past, the team's camp did not lead directly into its first meet of the New Year. Since a Junior National Event was held last weekend, college meets weren't held to avoid conflicts. This forced Penn to condense its schedule and led to this unusually large seven-team event. Having this experience of fencing in a larger tournament setting for an entire day is not lost on Micahnik. "It will be good conditioning, both physically and mentally," said Micahnik. "All of the matches count. "Even though they're not in our League, they'll help determine our position in postseason tournaments." For each fencer to see four opponents on each team on a single day will be tough, but the team is prepared. "We can't think about the entire day at once," said senior foil Cynthia Kwan. "We'll just take it step by step and adjust as we go along." "When the bell rings, we'll be out there ready to compete," said Micahnik.
The Penn women's fencing team could only muster one victory against tough competition at last Sunday's quad-meet in Princeton, N.J. Its 1-2 record, however, doesn't accurately reflect how tight all three matches were. An 11-point tie-breaker loss in total touch differential placed Penn (1-2, 0-1 Ivy) on the losing end of a 16-16 split with Princeton. "We knew coming in that Princeton had a tough epee squad, and I thought if we won six or seven epee matches, we'd have a chance to win the meet," said Penn coach Dave Micahnik. "We did [post six victories] but unfortunately, some team members couldn't get it going." Princeton posted a 10-6 victory in their marquee event. Senior Caitlin Rich picked up where her 29-1 1996-97 season concluded, with four victories over Penn. "Princeton definitely had a strong epee team," said senior epee Emmy Cho. "Rich scored a lot of touches." Penn, however, almost managed to overcome the strong Tigers epee showing by posting a 10-6 victory in the foil. Junior Agnieszka Gromulska won all four of her foil matches, and sophomore Margo Katz won three more as the Quakers showed their strength in this event. But Penn fell short in the tie-breaker, total touches, 116-105. While it didn't come down to a tie-breaker, the Quakers' second match against Rutgers was almost as close. Despite taking seven of 16 points from a strong Rutgers foil team, the Red and Blue ended up on the wrong end of a 17-15 decision. Junior epee Meredith Galto turned around a winless first round to go 4-0. However, Cho and freshman Tamar Yemini struggled against the Scarlet Knights in what was supposed to be the Quakers' stronger event. The foil proved to be much the same story. Gromulska and Katz duplicated their Princeton efforts to pick up all seven Quakers wins, but the other Quaker foils could not keep pace with the team leaders. "We needed more from her," said Micahnik of senior foil Cynthia Kwan. "We needed a balanced performance from the foil team, but the three and four spots didn't contribute." The Quakers foil team was able to steady its performance in the day's last match. In a solid 18-14 victory over North Carolina, Penn dominated the event, winning 11-5. Gromulska was handed her day's only loss, as both she and Katz won three of four bouts. Sophomore Amy Hozer finally got her touches in as well, winning two in the foil. The Quaker epee team won only seven of its 16 matches, but with the foil team dominating, the epee's outcome didn't change the result. It's clear that a tough first meet of the 1997-98 season will be a good example for fencing -- an example that will show the team that consistency across the board can turn their future close matches into victories.
It's been said that in order to find out how good one is, one has to face the best. The Penn women's fencing team gets to do just that Sunday in a tough quad-meet at Princeton, N.J. This quad-meet is one of the season's most difficult for the team. It is the first time in many years Penn is having a multiteam meet before the beginning of the second semester. It begins with a match against Princeton, which counts toward Ivy League standings, at 11 a.m. Penn then squares off against Rutgers at 1 p.m. and North Carolina at 3 p.m. The 1997 team is relatively experienced, returning 10 fencers from last year's 7-6 team. In 1996, they were able to defeat Princeton, 21-11, and North Carolina, 17-15, in dual meets before falling to Rutgers in the season finale, 18-14. This year, these three opponents are significantly improved, while the Red and Blue are hampered by the graduation of captain Elisabeth Cornfield. "Princeton worries me, Rutgers worries me, and North Carolina is always very athletic," Quakers coach Dave Micahnik said. "If we come out with a 2-1 record, I would consider it to be a positive meet." Princeton has several strong epee fencers. Led by Caitlin Rich, who went 29-1 last year, and supported by two freshmen, Matilda Acerra and Kristiina Hurme, the Tigers should give the Quakers trouble in this event. "We have a decent shot in our first match of the day because we usually start strong," said Penn captain Olivia Leon, an epee fencer. Rutgers, on the other hand, brings back a strong foil team. Senior captain Adrienne Hancock placed sixth in foil competition at the Penn State Open in November. On Sunday, the Quaker epee team, which has been stronger than its foil over the past few years, could end up being the deciding factor. "All the teams have eight strong fencers," Penn junior epee Meredith Galto said. "Princeton epee has three nationally ranked fencers. We should be warmed up to do well in our second match against Rutgers." North Carolina could be a troubling team, according to Micahnik. "They all usually fence in a pattern? almost a coach's system," Micahnik said. "So if one gets to you, chances are they probably all will." But, stressed the coach, "Each match will be close, and winnable." It should help that several members of this year's team went to one of two regularly scheduled individual tournaments earlier in the fall. At the Penn State Open, held November 15-16, Leon placed sixth in the epee, and was followed closely by senior Emmy Cho, who placed 14th in that event. Galto, senior foil Cindy Kwan and sophomore foil Amy Hozer also participated in this meet. "We're at an iffy stage right now, but we're definitely coming along." Kwan said. Each of Penn's four foil and epee fencers will face four opponents in a five-touch bout. This means that there are 16 winnable points in both foil and epee against all three of the other schools. All 13 fencers on Penn's roster will attend the meet, and there may be some lineup substitutions for the eight "starters" depending upon how the matches are going.
What would be the best possible way for the Penn women's fencing team to prepare for a tough season-opening meet? How about bringing back part of their 1986 NCAA championship team for a little friendly competition? The Penn fencing program will hold its Alumni Meet at 1 p.m. at Weightman Gymnasium on Saturday. This event brings together at least five former fencers for a reception, followed by a "friendly" competition between the alumni and the current Quakers squad. The Alumni Meet has been held annually since 1993, and this year will once again return several famous alumni. Of special note, three-time first-team all-American and two-time Olympian Mary Jane O'Neill will make a showing. Now a radiologist, O'Neill won an individual NCAA championship as a sophomore in 1984 before leading the Quakers to their only team national title two years later. At least one other member of that 1986 championship team will be back for this meet. Three-time first-team all-Ivy selection Jane Hall-Carter, who won first-team all-American honors as a freshman, will also be back. Another member of that undefeated team, former captain Tamara Moss, may also attend. "That team was one of the best ever," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. "They had excellent chemistry. It will be great to have O'Neill and Hall back fencing." Another former fencer returning for this reception is Margo Szabunia, the first woman all-American that Micahnik produced at Penn. Martha Stachitas, the first captain of women's fencing -- which was a club sport for one year before attaining varsity status -- will also attend the reunion. A disappointment for Penn is that last year's captain, Elisabeth Cornfield, has an academic commitment and is unable to return. Her mother, a University employee who also competed with the program before the sport attained full varsity status, is competing. Even though many of Micahnik's early women's teams, including the 1986 championship squad, used only the foil in their college meets, the alumni matches on Saturday will feature competition with both the foil and the epee. This won't be difficult for the alumni, though, because many fencers competed outside of college in the epee, while fencing solely in the foil for Penn. Moss, while finishing fourth in the 1986 NCAAs in the foil, was also nationally ranked in epee competition. The Alumni Meet is not only a reunion for several former Quakers fencers, but also provides ample opportunity for the 1997 team to prepare for their season-opening match the following day. All 13 members on the current Quakers women's fencing squad will suit up for, and compete in, this event. "They will grow to understand the enjoyment and the importance of this event," Micahnik said. This is the first time that Penn's season-opening meet takes place the day after the Alumni Meet. The tough alumni competition comes in handy for a young women's team, as they fence Princeton, North Carolina and Rutgers -- three of the tougher eastern teams this season -- on Sunday at Princeton. Several of this year's team members have aspirations to follow in the footsteps of former Penn fencers who have competed internationally. Freshman Kari Coley, an epee specialist, will travel to Budapest for the second time in early January to compete in the Junior World Cup. She placed 23rd last year, and will try to improve upon that finish this year. The knowledge and experience the former fencers bring to the Alumni Meet is a welcome help to the Quakers as they prepare for the start of the 1997 season.
Jarvis Kelley Sanni could be a member of the defending NCAA champion Arizona Wildcats right now. Instead, the senior forward will take the floor for Rice against Penn tomorrow looking to help his team turn around an 0-2 start. The second-year Rice player, who transferred prior to last season after spending two years at Arizona, is currently the only senior in coach Willis Wilson's Owls' lineup. With senior guard Bobby Crawford out for the first few games of the season with a sprained ankle, Sanni, a power forward, is crucial player for the inexperienced Owls, who only return two starters. "Jarvis brings a multitude of experience to our team?. He's played in a Final Four [in 1994 with Arizona] and been through some wars in the [Western Athletic Conference]," Wilson said. "He knows a little more than the rest of the team, and possesses a great deal of maturity as a fifth-year senior. He's been a calming influence on the new players we have this year." Sanni has already faced two top-quality opponents this season. Sanni scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in an opening game 65-53 loss to Florida State, despite being plagued by early foul trouble. Against defending Big 12 champion Kansas, he came back to score 25 and pull down 11 rebounds, eight offensive, in Rice's 88-61 loss. He managed this while matching up inside against All-American candidates Paul Pierce and Raef Lafrentz. "Jarvis is extremely athletic and very strong," Owls coach Wilson said. "He's versatile, sets screen well and runs the floor." Other coaches have taken notice of the versatile forward skills as well. "Sanni is so quick to the ball," Quakers coach Fran Dunphy said. "He's dangerous and has a great knowledge of the game." During the 1996-97 season, his first in the Rice system, Sanni came through in a major way. He averaged 7.1 rebounds and 9.8 points a game while shooting 50 percent from the floor. Sanni added a single-season record for blocks with 29, while only starting 21 of 27 games. "We're hoping he shows consistency this year," Wilson said. "We've set a high benchmark for him as a screener, defender and rebounder. He recognizes these are all things he needs to do to be successful." Penn knows all too well how complete and developed a player Sanni is inside. He played a crucial role in last year's 70-63 home victory over Penn, coming off the bench to score seven points and lead the Owls with 12 rebounds, including six offensive, in only 25 minutes of play. Penn, which was unable to contain Sanni on the boards, had planned to use its experience to develop a game preventing the Owls' domination inside. With sophomore center Geoff Owens out for the year, and forward Paul Romanczuk battling preseason injuries, things do not look good for the Quakers in the paint. Sanni can look forward to having another forceful game inside. At 6'9" and 225 pounds he is larger than any active Quaker taking the floor tomorrow afternoon. "We're going to have to do a good job checking him off the boards," said Dunphy, adding that this will be difficult because "he's made a lot of his short turnaround shots so far this year. He played a good game the other night [against Kansas], and will be difficult to defend inside." Sanni undoubtedly learned some of his trade as a two-year letterman at Arizona under Lute Olson. Sanni averaged 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in his tenure there. In some ways, Sanni resembles the Rice program as a whole. Last year marked two shared firsts for Sanni and the Owls -- the first year for the team in the WAC and likewise his first year with the Rice. Now back as a fifth-year senior and returning letterman, Sanni hopes to once again be a major force inside for the Owls in their second year in the WAC Pacific Division. But first, he'd like to help Rice pick up one more win over the Quakers.
The squad return 11 fencers for 1997-98. The Penn women's fencing team is looking forward to once again dueling against its Ivy League opponents. Coming off a decent 1996 season which saw the Quakers go 7-6 overall and 2-3 in Ivy League play, the team is hoping to considerably better their marks this year. Returning 11 fencers, including seven starters, from last year's squad is sure to help. Having graduated only one member from last year's team, Penn looks forward to having a solid squad for the season. The team will feature two seniors, captain Olivia Leon and Ying Emmy Cho, an epee, and another senior, Cynthia Kwan, on foil. "Our epee team seems to be our strength right now," said Quakers coach Dave Micahnik, who has headed both men's and women's fencing for over 20 years at Penn. He adds, though, "That at any given event, either of our two squads could come up big." The Quakers' sole representative at the 1996 NCAA tournament, junior Meredith Galto, returns to lead the team in this event. Challenging Galto, Leon and Cho for epee positions will be freshman sensation Kari Coley. The latter competed last year in the Division I national championships, and has competed in Junior World Cup events over the past few years. Last year's best foil fencer, Margo Katz, returns for her sophomore year. Joining Katz and Kwan in the foil lineup is junior Agnieszka Gromulska. As opposed to men's fencing, which features three weapons, women's competition includes just the foil and epee -- not the sabre. This places more emphasis on team depth in each event. The object in foil competition is to score within the torso of the opponent's body; in epee, players can score with a hit anywhere on the body. The epee features a heavier, stiffer blade and a larger hand guard than the foil. The women's fencing program has been one of Penn's most successful during recent years, winning a national championship in 1986 and placing five fencers on All-Ivy first teams since 1994. This year, although Penn has 11 returning fencers, it also features 10 underclassmen. "Right now we have a good team," said Micahnik, adding,"We have good depth across the board." The coach also stated that his goal is a winning season. Although the season has yet to officially begin, the Red and Blue are hard at work improving and preparing for its first meet. Stating the team "is currently around the middle of the [Ivy League] pack," Micahnik nonetheless believes "our team has shown significant improvement so far this year." He expects several of the underclassman to challenge for the top positions soon. The Quakers open their team season with a quad-meet at Princeton on December 7. This meet includes three of the top teams in the Eastern region in Rutgers, North Carolina and Princeton. "This should definitely be a tough opening meet," Micahnik said. "That will test our progress so far this year."
The fall season ended on a high note for the Penn women's tennis team. This weekend's Eastern College Athletic Conference team championships at Princeton provided yet another setting for the team to put on a strong showing. The Quakers did relatively well in a field of eight that included familiar opponents such as Penn State, Rutgers and Princeton, as well as new faces from Virginia, Brown, James Madison and eventual winner Virginia Tech. This fall, the Quakers have always been able to come back from early struggles to finish with a win. ECACs was no exception. After an early defeat at the hands of a beatable opponent, Princeton, the Quakers came back with some exceptional play against Penn State to leave the tournament in great shape and high spirits, having won the loser's bracket. Although their final standings may not accurately reflect it, the Red and Blue played well in this final team competition of the fall. On Friday, in team head-to-head competitions, Penn lost to Princeton, 5-4, but bounced back to defeat James Madison, 5-1. The Princeton loss was a particularly tough one for the Quakers to swallow, sending them to the losers bracket. Penn players Julia Feldman and Shubha Srinivasan both lost tough, three-set matches, and the first doubles team of Elana Gold and Feldman lost 9-8 in a tiebreaker. "Princeton was actually a lot closer than 5-4? it could've gone either way," said Penn coach Michael Dowd. "It was a very, very tough college match? it came down to the last game of the day." Solid wins in the last two rounds brought the Quakers to fifth place out of the eight teams participating at Princeton. The team bounced back against James Madison later on Friday afternoon, picking up a win over the clearly overmatched team. Six of the seven Penn singles players won, including three, Anastasia Pozdniakova (6-4, 6-3), Lara Afanassiev (6-2, 7-5) and Rina Borromeo (6-2, 6-2), in straight sets. Penn finished its season in style on Sunday. The Quakers avenged a loss last year by picking up a huge 7-2 win over Penn State sophomore Gold teamed with junior Feldman to win 8-6 over the previously undefeated Nittany Lions first doubles team. Penn State sophomores Alison Barnett and Pilar Montgomery, who had defeated two other Quakers teams in winning the last two tournaments of this fall season, lost to the new Penn first doubles team in a match Dowd called "a big win." Gold, who finished without a loss in singles play in addition to this large win, was a key in the Quakers' ability to bounce back and finish well on Saturday. Gold has been one of several bright spots this fall, continually turning in solid play and winning the crucial matches. More great play was turned in this weekend by freshman Borromeo. For the second tournament in a row, this improving new player did well, going undefeated in both in singles play and in doubles action with senior co-captain Afanassiev. "We complimented each other well," Borromeo said. "The two of us really clicked from the first time we practiced together? " Also this weekend, improvement was seen in the play of the Quakers' doubles teams. Despite going only 1-2 in the loss to Princeton, doubles ended the weekend with a 4-2 overall record and several convincing wins. In addition, junior Corin Esterowitz finished with a 2-1 singles record. No. 1 singles player Pozdniakova scored three straight-set victories and continues to show herself to be among the class of the Ivy League.
Quakers Shubha Srinivasan and Rena Borromeo won three matches before facing each other in the finals Successful. If one could only use a single word to describe the play of the freshmen on the Penn women's tennis team last weekend, it would definitely be successful. At the Penn State Lady Lion Invitational, Quakers freshmen Shubha Srinivasan and Rena Borromeo each walked all over three singles opponents -- the two did not lose one set between them before meeting each other in the finals of their Flight B section. About 60 representatives from six teams were split into four brackets, or flights, A through D. Both women played extremely well over the three-day tournament, which culminated with Srinivasan defeating teammate Borromeo in an all-Quakers final, 6-0, 6-1. With their success in this tournament, Srinivasan upped her fall singles record to 9-1, while Borromeo improved to 7-1. "I was nervous in my first match, but I got better rhythm and more confidence as I went along," Srinivasan said. She also spoke highly of Borromeo, "The [final] match was a lot closer than the score showed? every point was a struggle?" In addition to their individual successes, the two freshmen paired with other Quakers in doubles competition. In the Flight A doubles draw, individual runner-up Borromeo combined with sophomore Anastasia Pozdniakova for another two wins before losing, 8-2, in the semifinals to eventual winners Alison Barnett and Pilar Montgomery from Penn State. The Lady Lion Invitational featured many solid players from Penn State, Princeton, Rutgers, Temple and West Virginia, as well as several experienced upperclassmen from the Quakers. When all was said and done, however, it was the freshmen, Borromeo and Srinivasan, who proved to be two of the tournament's rising stars. With their play, these two have shown they are capable of stepping up and becoming potent weapons for the Penn team this season. On a team returning all eight players from a year ago, these young hitters are really making a strong case for being a part of the permanent Quakers line-up. "Our performance was excellent," said coach Michael Dowd, adding that, "although this was just one tournament, I am very pleased with [Srinivasan's and Borromeo's] efforts." Youth was the overriding theme for the Quakers team at Penn State, as a third underclassman had another excellent tournament. In the Flight A bracket, Quakers No. 1 player Pozdniakova won her singles bracket in convincing fashion. Pozdniakova defeated Princeton's Olivia Streatfield, 6-4, 6-0, in Sunday's final to improve her fall singles record to 11-1. With her second tournament victory already this year, Pozdniakova has clearly established herself as a dominant force in the Ivy League. In addition to the strong showings by the three underclassmen, all four additional Penn singles players and three of the four Quakers doubles teams managed one or more wins apiece. Penn sophomore Elana Gold, carrying over her strong performance from the Cissie Leary Invitational, had another comeback, three-set victory before falling to Borromeo in the Flight B semifinals. Bouncing back from an opening round loss to West Virginia's Ellie Earles, Penn junior Julia Feldman defeated the Scarlet Knights' Karla Porter with a 6-1, 7-5 decision in the second round consolation bracket. Later in the Lady Lion Invitational, Gold and Feldman teamed to pick up a big victory over the Princeton No. 1 doubles team, 9-7. They went on to win their second match in Flight A doubles action before falling short in the third round to Rutgers, 8-4. In Flight B doubles, Penn juniors Karen Ridley and Corin Esterowitz advanced to the second round with an 8-4 win over West Virginia before losing, 8-2, to the Penn State second team.
Today will be the breakout day for the Penn women's tennis team, if history is any indication. The Quakers will face the Army at Penn's Lott Courts at 2 p.m. today, and the team knows it is in a great position to get a huge boost from the match. The Quakers definitely have a strong group of players, and they are looking to start their year with a bang. Last year against Army, Penn cleaned up, winning all nine of their matches. This year's Penn team returns all of its players, so they anticipate repeating the success of a year ago. Solid play today may signal the beginning of another successful season for the Quakers. Although no team should be taken lightly, especially this early in the fall season, Penn should get on a winning track against the Cadets. Facing Army seems like an easy matchup for the Quakers, who believe well-prepared because of their early-season tournament schedule. The competition today will definitely be more focused and team-oriented, according to Penn coach Michael Dowd. Senior co-captains Lara Afanassiev and Andrea Grossman lead the younger Quakers into their first home matches. For the first time this season, the Penn players face a common opponent, and having this take place on their home courts can only help the team. "We have an excellent chance of doing very well," said Dowd, who expects Army to be one of the weaker teams Penn will face. "[Army is] a good match to get our confidence back." With a victory expected, Dowd will be as interested in looking for individual and doubles team improvement in this match as in the actual final match scores. This is the first dual meet of the year that will count toward the overall team standings. This match will definitely help the Red and Blue get a feel for team play, and will help them to gear up for their all-important Ivy League opponents who they face later this season. All 12 players will be present at this home match, but at this time, Dowd is unsure of which players will compete. Several players may compete in both doubles and singles, but as is always the case early in the season, neither line-up is certain.
The Penn women's tennis team had a tough time this weekend at the first annual Cissie Leary Women's Tennis Memorial Invitational. The Quakers did not enjoy the individual successes in this three-day tournament they had during their two previous fall competitions. Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, all but one singles player and every doubles team were eliminated by the end of the second round in this five-round tournament. "I think the team was a little disappointed in their play in the second round," said Penn coach Michael Dowd, who also served as tournament's director. Penn players finished with only one win out of a total of nine second-round matches. Five of the six singles players were eliminated from their draws, as were all three doubles teams. This left Penn underrepresented on its home court for the later rounds. Only sophomore Anastasia Pozdniakova was able to move on to the singles quarterfinals Saturday afternoon with a 6-2, 6-1 second-round win. She too lost a tough match, though, to eventual semifinalist Leisa Bilak from Richmond in the third round. Dowd, however, stressed the high level of competition that was present at this first-ever tournament at Penn's Lott Courts. Seven strong Eastern schools -- Penn, Boston College, Penn State, Princeton, Richmond, Seton Hall and Yale -- brought teams to the Memorial Invitational. By Sunday afternoon, however, the focus of all attention was on the extent to which Richmond was drubbing all other schools involved. "I knew [Richmond] would be a tough team, but I had no idea they would dominate as they did," Dowd said. The final results clearly indicated Richmond's supremacy. No. 1 seed Elizabeth Cascarilla defeated teammate Bridget Merrick, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, in the semifinals. Bilak won her semifinal match without a single double-fault. In the finals, Bilak won the main singles draw, defeating teammate Cascarilla. After an opening-round loss, a fourth Richmond player, Janelle Williams, was able to win the consolation draw, 6-2, 6-2, over Mercedes del Valle from B.C. Penn State's first doubles team, though, defeated Bilak and Merrick to deny Richmond the prize of the main doubles draw. B.C. guaranteed itself one victory by placing its two doubles teams in the consolation bracket doubles finals. The Penn team did enjoy some early success in the tournament. Dowd was impressed that four of Penn's six singles players won their first-round matches. In particular, he praised sophomore Elana Gold for her strong play. Gold had a comeback 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 win in her first singles match on Friday, then teamed with junior Karen Ridley to defeat the fourth-seeded B.C. doubles team 8-3 in a modified pro set later in the same day. "I was very happy with Elana's play? she really picked it up in this tournament," said Dowd of one of the few bright spots in the otherwise difficult Cissie Leary Invitational for Penn. In contrast to the singles play, the Penn doubles teams did not show the cohesiveness or strength that might have been expected of a team with two prior fall competitions under its belt. Only one of Penn's three doubles teams was able to advance to the second round of the main draw, and two of the teams were defeated twice in a row. The Quakers were facing stiff competition and none of their doubles combinations were the same as in last weekend's tournament, but the doubles teams could not seem to put it together to pull out the close 8-6 and 8-5 matches. Although pleased by small bits and pieces of play from his individual players and doubles teams, Dowd says the team has "shown nothing exceptional" so far this fall season. Dowd said that even after early successes, this tournament served to accurately highlight the weaknesses of the Quakers. The main source of disappointment in this invitational lay in the play of the new doubles team, but Dowd knows the Quakers must sharpen both their singles and doubles play skills in the coming weeks.
The Penn women's tennis team is off to a great start this year and hopes to continue with its winning efforts this weekend in the Eastern Collegiates at Princeton. The three-day tournament will feature four singles divisions and two doubles divisions. Each singles player or doubles pair is guaranteed two matches in the tournament on Friday; after the first match, however, it is a single elimination draw for the rest of the weekend. Starting today, the Red and Blue will attempt to duplicate last year's showing in the tournament. In 1996, Penn players or doubles pairs placed in the finals of each of the six draws, winning four. This team returns all nine players from an 11-5 squad, and the women's overall match play experience should come in very handy in this tournament. The Eastern Collegiates will feature a tough compilation of Division I singles and doubles teams, as well as a small compliment of Division II and III teams. Ivy League foes Cornell and Princeton are sure to be solid opponents at the tournament. West Virginia will bring yet another deep team this year and schools such as Connecticut, Massachusetts and Fairfield will also seek to outplace the Quakers. In all, approximately 15 to 20 schools from the Northeast will attend with a full contingent of players. Last year's Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Penn sophomore Anastasia Pozdniakova, will play in the first singles division in the tournament. Senior co-captains Lara Afanassiev and Andrea Grossman will each return as singles players with good knowledge of the match site and level of competition; talented freshman Shubha Srinivasan will fill the final singles spot. Sophomore Elana Gold and freshman Regina Borromeo will play in the first doubles division, and sophomore Alison Lacika will combine with freshman Melissa Perold in the second doubles draw. Although neither pair has played together in a competitive match before, Penn coach Mike Dowd feels that the daily practice regimen of the last few weeks will allow both teams to work well together and be a force in the doubles draws. Dowd stresses that this tournament will be a tougher test than last weekend's Georgetown Invitational. In that meet, the Quakers, while competing only in singles, won 21 of 24 individual matches. This weekend, each player or team is guaranteed two matches, with a maximum of six matches should they reach the finals Sunday afternoon. Although not competing for overall team results, Dowd knows that the women will still be there to cheer each other on during their matches. Dowd has a lot of confidence in his team, and is pleased with its strong showing this year. This will be the second tournament in as many weeks, and Dowd feels the team is in good physical and mental condition for this early point in the fall season. The Red and Blue have had a busy fall season so far, but this is nothing new to the dedicated Quakers. Most of their players spent a good portion of their summer playing tennis and tuning up for team competition this fall. The team will, however, rest several of its upperclass players who participated in last weekend's tournament so they will be ready for the upcoming Ivy League match to be held on Penn's Lott Courts. Dowd wants to rotate his players so that each gets valuable match experience, and he feels that this weekend's Eastern Collegiates will be a good opportunity for the freshmen and sophomore Quakers to play against some solid competition.