Following their previous tournament at Columbia, Penn’s women’s tennis team continued their success last weekend at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional.
The ITA Northeast Regional was held at the Clay Hamlin Tennis Center in Penn Park from October 1-3. The tournament was divided into a single division and a double division, with several Penn players competing in each.
Participated in the regional tournament for players from Penn, New Jersey Institute of Technology, St. Francis University, St. Bonaventure, Drexel, Seton Hall, Lehigh, Temple, Syracuse, Cornell, Buffalo, Princeton, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rutgers, Niagara University, Binghamton University, Colgate, Hofstra, Rider and Long Island University.
Penn had several players on the field this weekend. In the 128-player singles bracket were six Penn players: graduate student Marija Curnic, junior Amanda Chan, sophomore Iris Gallo and freshmen Saige Roshkoff, Gavriella Smith and Eileen Wang.
The majority of singles rounds took place in the first two days and most suffered losses during that time. In the round of 64, Chan lost to Azra Deniz Comlek of Buffalo. After beating Kyra Bergmann of Binghamton, Wang fell to Vineetha Mummadi of Temple in the round of 16. Gallo also lost in the round of 16, losing to Miyuka Kimoto of Syracuse, after a round of 16 victory over Rider’s Ally Garofoli.
Roshkoff also claimed a victory over Colgate’s Addie Eklund in straight sets before losing in the round of 16 to Princeton’s Neha Velaga in straight sets. Curnic’s tournament race was also cut short.
Smith was the only Penn player to advance to the round of 16 on October 3. After a doubles game earlier in the morning, Smith took on Syracuse rookie Shiori Ito to see who would qualify for the Super-Regionals on October 14. -17.
Smith and Ito had a home and away game. Ito won the first set, 6-3, but Smith returned to gain momentum and won the second set, 6-3. Smith came back down 3-2 to capture the set, winning four in a row in close matches.
All tied, the last game was a winner. The game’s momentum shifted, with each player racking up wins. However, Ito won the match. The set was incredibly tight and competitive. But when he was six-all, Smith slipped across the field during the game due to a shoe malfunction and grazed his arm. She changed her shoe with a teammate’s shoe to keep playing, but Ito kept winning.
Despite the loss, Smith took the whole tournament in stride.
âI was happy with the way I played. It was my first big tournament and it was Penn who made it better, âSmith said.[The tournament] was a good building block. I am happy. Everything happens for the reason.
On the doubles side of the tournament, Smith teamed up with Wang. Smith and Wang advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament, beating teams Seton Hall and Drexel. In the end, they fell to the Princeton duo of Leena Bennetto and Maia Sung on Sunday morning in the quarterfinals. Roshkoff and Gallo were also partners, but the Temple duo of Vineetha Mummadi and Rine Nozaki beat them in the round of 16.
The doubles winning duo consisted of Chan and rookie Sabine Rutlauka. After defeating the Cornell duo of Lan Mi and Jenny Wong, the pair advanced to the quarterfinals where they faced Pia Schwarz of Buffalo and Nikoleta Antoniou-Karademitrou. In that game, they only played one set, in which the eight-game first team won.
After starting slow and Buffalo gathered momentum, the Quakers turned the tide to win the game 8-5. Chan and Rutlauka worked as a great duo, combining Rutlauka’s powerful hits and Chan’s aggressive playing style. Rutlauka attributes the team’s supportive nature to the reason they won the game.
“We were both supporting each other … I said [Chan], ‘We understood. Let’s go, âRutlauka said.
And they won. The pair secured a spot in the Super Regionals, which will be played in Dartmouth on the weekend of October 14-17. Overall, coach Sanela Kunovac is proud of the work done in this competitive tournament.
âI think we can do better than that,â Kunovac said. “But not to belittle the effort, but to say to the players: ‘You did well. You have reached a good benchmark. But I’m pretty sure there is a higher benchmark you can hit.
Rutlauka will see no respite from tennis. Right after the tournament, a group of the team boarded a plane to South Carolina for the ITA All-American Championships, “the toughest tournament in college tennis,” according to Kunovac.
Rutlauka and senior Iuliia Bryzgalova will both play in singles, starting with qualifying on Monday. Curnic and Bryzgalova will also play together as a doubles team and are already seeded in the tournament’s main draw.
âThey are both great fighters. They are both very resilient on the court. And they play with heart, âKunovac said.