This weekend, the Penn men’s squash earned the top item on its wish list before the holiday season: a winning record going into break.
On Saturday, the Quakers defeated Williams, 6-3, at the Ringe Courts.
The match promised to be close, given that Penn entered the match ranked No. 9 and Williams No. 10 nationally, and last year’s match resulted in a 5-4 win for Penn (3-1, 0-1 Ivy).
“We seem to always have tight matches with Williams,” coach Jack Wyant noted.
Last week, senior co-captain and Penn’s No. 1 player, Thomas Mattsson, commented that Williams was “one of the three matches [the Quakers] went into the season looking to win.”
Mattsson won his match Saturday in four games, beating the Ephs’ William Morris. He capped off the match decisively, only dropping four points in the final two games.
By winning, Mattsson avenged his loss to Morris when the two teams met last year.
Mattsson wasn’t the only one to get payback. Penn No. 4 Daniel Judd beat Alexander Greaves-Tunnell in straight games. Greaves-Tunnell beat Judd in a tense five-gamer at nationals last year.
Judd clinched his match moments before the Red and the Blue’s No. 7, freshman Michael Mutscheller, won his match — also in straight sets — to seal the victory for Penn over the Ephs (2-5).
“[The win was] much better than our last win — we were one point away from losing the entire match,” Judd noted, picking up on his coach’s comments about “winning ugly” over Navy on Wednesday.
John Dudzik, Jack Maine and Justin Ang, the Quakers’ No. 6, 8 and 9 players, respectively, tallied the other three wins for Penn.
Wyant was particularly pleased with his team’s patience.
“During the crucial points, they played very intelligently, a little bit conservatively, which historically we haven’t always done,” he said.
Wyant is trying to impart to his team that making your opponent lose is just as good as hitting a winner.
“Squash is a little bit like chess: you can’t win in one move, you have to hit a series of good shots … to win a rally,” Wyant added.
While Penn can enjoy its winning record, the Red and the Blue have some things to work on between now and their next match — in Cambridge, Mass., where they’ll take on No. 5 Harvard on Jan. 14.
Wyant wants his players to speed up the game.
He pointed out the need to “[apply] pressure to our opponents by taking the ball early, by volleying. The very best teams are the ones that apply pressure.”
Penn showed signs of embracing a volley-first mentality on Saturday, which is a good start towards accomplishing Wyant’s goal.
Mattsson also emphasized fitness, as he has this whole year, and said that come 2012, the Quakers will be ready to “bring the fire.”
Whatever the Quakers do, they’re hoping to move up at least one spot in the rankings to earn an invite to the year-end, eight-team tournament.