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Feb. 16, 2012
University Park, Pa. - In the recently released poll, the Penn State women's tennis team (4-2, 1-0) came in at No. 59. This marks the first time the Nittany Lions have broken into the rankings since 2008, when they came in at number 75 during the week of Feb. 22, 2008. Petra Januskova (Ottawa, Canada) significantly jumped in the singles poll as well, moving from No. 96 last month to No. 43 in this weeks ranking.
Penn State is riding a four-match win streak, including two straight victories over ranked opponents. The Nittany Lions defeated No. 57 Ohio State, 4-3, in their Big Ten opener on Tues., Feb. 7, and upset No. 40 VCU, also 4-3, on Sun., Feb. 12.
Eight of the 12 schools in the highly competitive Big Ten were ranked in this weeks Top 75. Penn State joins seven other Big Ten schools in poll, including No. 9 Northwestern, No. 11 Michigan, No. 28 Nebraska, No. 41 Purdue, No. 57 Illinois, No. 64 Ohio State and No. 70 Wisconsin.
"We are thrilled that our efforts are recognized, but determined to do more," said Head Coach Dawna Denny. "We must remain focused on each individual match."
In addition to Penn State's early season success, Januskova has been dominant in every single match this season. The junior is 6-0 in singles play, including two victories over ranked opponents (No. 14 Diana Nakic of No. 6 Baylor and No. 111 Kim Berghaus of UMBC). Januskova has only lost one set this entire season and was named Big Ten Athlete of the Week for the week of Jan. 10. She is just the third Nittany Lion in program history to earn that honor.
In the Nittany Lions' last match against VCU, after losing the doubles point to start the match, Penn State picked up four singles victories to earn the win. Januskova continued her success, beating Ana Bara, 6-3, 6-3. Chelsea Utting improved to 5-1 by knocking off No. 120 Alex Bara, 6-4, 6-2. Nina Sertic and Marie-Frederique Bedard also picked up singles victories for the Nittany Lions in two must-win situations to clinch the upset.
Penn State will kick off an eight-match home stand this weekend when it hosts both Pennsylvania and Tulane. The Nittany Lions will face the Quakers on Friday at 5 p.m. and will then take on the Green Wave on Sunday at 10 a.m. Friday's match will feature a t-shirt throw for those in attendance.
Penn is led by Head Coach Sanela Kunovac, who is in her third season with the Quakers. Sophomore Connie Hsu returns to the line-up as last season's Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Year. Hsu compiled a 44-3 total record, including a berth in the NCAA Qualifying Tournament. The Nittany Lions are deadlocked in their all-time series record with the Quakers. The teams have faced each other 30 times and both teams have 15 wins each. However, Penn State has not beaten Penn since the Spring 2001 season.
Terri Sisk enters her fourth season at the helm of the Green Wave. Tulane is led by Mariam Kurdadze, who is a three-time All-Conference USA selection. The senior tallied twenty wins last season in both singles and doubles play for the Green Wave. The Nittany Lions have only played the Green Wave once in series history, in the Spring of 2001. Tulane beat Penn State in that match to hold a 1-0 record over the Nittany Lions.
Next up, Penn State will continue its home stand when it hosts Marshall, Fri., Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. and Miami of Ohio, Sun., Feb. 26 at noon. After that the Nittany Lions will have a break in match play for two weeks. Penn State will restart dual match action on Wed., March 14 when it faces Temple at 4:30 p.m.
All of the Nittany Lions home matches can be followed through the link for live stats at http://www.gopsusports.com/livestats/c-tennis/xlive.htm. Make sure to "like" the Penn State Women's Tennis page on Facebook and follow @PSUWomensTennis on Twitter!