This Friday, Sept. 22 the women’s tennis team will travel to The University of Pennsylvania for the annual Cissie Leary Invitational. The tournament, which will stretch through the weekend, features a slew of Ivy League rivals including Harvard, Dartmouth, and Columbia.
Last year, the Tigers enjoyed modest success at the tournament. Sivan Krems '17 picked up a win on the first day of competition, beating Temple’s Galina Chernykh in a tight match. Joining her to round out the Princeton squad were Alanna Wolff '17, then-junior Sara Goodwin, and then-sophomore Catalina Vives.
Each of the Tigers managed to play a singles match at the Invitational. Princeton closed out last season’s competition with two wins from Krems and Vives. Both Krems and Vives defeated their opponents in straight sets. Krems topped Penn’s Luba Vazhenina 6-2, 6-2 as Vives outplayed University of Delaware’s Sarah Hall, 7-6, 6-2 in consolation matches.
Since 1997, the Cissie Leary Invitational has honored Penn coach Cissie Leary, who served the women’s tennis team from 1977 to 1996. Under her leadership, the Quakers managed to compile 229 wins leading to 16 winning seasons. In 1995, Leary guided Penn to the NCAA East Regional. Leary passed away in 1996 after a long battle with scleroderma. Since then, Penn has held the Invitational to honor her contributions.
While the season is just starting up, the Invitational should give the Tigers a litmus test as they face some of their toughest Ivy League rivals. This will be the second tournament Princeton has competed in during the 2017 season.
Last week the Princeton squad traveled to Rhode Island to compete in the Hall of Fame ITA Invitational. Despite being the first match of the season, the Tigers completed the tournament with an exclamation point as they faced tough competition. Indeed, all four of Princeton’s single matches came against nationally ranked foes.
Freshman Stephanie Schrage fought against North Carolina’s Jessie Aney as sophomore Gabriella Pollner was narrowly edged out by North Texas’ No. 41 Maria Kononova. Schrage teamed up with junior Nicole Kalhorn and nearly upset Aney and North Carolina’s Alexa Graham. While all these matches proved to be breathtaking, the highlight of the day came when senior Katrine Steffensen defeated North Carolina’s No. 4 Sara Daavettila, 7-5, 5-7 (11-9).
The second day of the invitational produced another win over a ranked opponent for the Tigers. This time coming from rookie Schrage. Schrage edged out LSU’s No. 64 Ryann Foster in a tightly contested match. Princeton would close the Tournament with impressive performances all around and two notable wins over ranked opponents.
The Princeton’s squad strong start to the year bodes well for the team as they look to improve upon their 13-9 record from last season. Indeed the 2016-2017 Princeton squad were narrowly edged out of a share of the Ivy League title after two devastating losses to Harvard and Dartmouth at the end of the season. Dartmouth went on to earn the NCAA bid.
The Tigers will compete in the Hecht Tennis Center for the Cissie Leary Invitational.