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Feb. 27, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 35 in the most recent ITA poll released yesterday, their highest ranking in years.
"The new ranking is awesome, but it's just a taste of what's coming", Senior Sarah Henderson said. "We started unranked my freshman year and now we are sitting at No. 35, it's exciting to think what the younger players will be able to accomplish in the next few years."
With another pair of victories over the weekend including a 6-1 pounding against No. 49 Virginia Commonwealth, the Nittany Lions jumped 13 spots in the rankings from last week. Before this move, the Nittany Lions were at the No. 48 spot for three consecutive weeks.
The highest ranking Penn State held before now was No. 46 which they were for several weeks last season, most recently the week of March 27, 2012. The highest ranking the Nittany Lions have ever finished a season at was No. 49 in 2001, which was also the same year they made the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time in team history.
The wins over West Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth, both regional opponents, moved the Nittany Lions to 9-0 on the season, sending the message they are not to be taken lightly. The Nittany Lions still have two players unbeaten on the season in singles play in Chelsea Utting who is 9-0 and Jacqueline Zuhse who owns an 8-0 record.
Through nine matches the Nittany Lions possess a .759 winning percentage (41-13) in singles matches and a .680 winning percentage (17-8) in doubles matches. The Nittany Lions enter conference play this coming weekend when they travel to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.
"The team's mentality has changed over the course of my time here. I think we've gotten a lot closer and a lot tougher," Henderson said.
In the singles poll, Petra Januskova moved down to the No. 47 spot despite winning all eight of her matches since the last set of rankings came out. Januskova is the fifth-highest ranked Big Ten Conference player in the rankings. Directly above her at No. 46 in the rankings is Ohio State's Kelsey Dieters, who she'll meet this coming weekend.
The Nittany Lions are set to begin their conference schedule with a tough matchup against the Buckeyes on Sunday at noon. The Buckeyes will come into the match ranked No. 55 in the nation. The Lions will then head down to South Carolina the following match where they'll face No. 72 College of Charleston. The Lions do not return home until March 29 when they host Iowa at 6 p.m.