Penn squash had a busy weekend.
The men’s team beat Brown, 7-2, Saturday, and fell to Yale, 8-1. In the meantime, the women’s squad beat both Brown and Stanford Saturday, 7-2 and 6-3, respectively, and lost to Yale, 5-4, Sunday.
The victories over Brown (men 7-5, 0-4 Ivy; women 9-4, 1-3) were not a surprise, as both Penn squads are ranked notably higher than their Bears opponents.
Nonetheless, the men’s team (4-6, 1-4) badly needed that win to end a four match slide. Similarly, the women were looking to bounce back after a loss against Trinity.
“We had a few guys out of the lineup [against Brown], and we were successful,” Penn coach Jack Wyant said.
The losses to Yale, while a setback for the Quakers, were not particularly surprising. Yale’s women’s squad is ranked No. 2 in the country. Its No. 1 men’s team defeated Trinity to snap the Bantams’ 252-game winning streak.
Nonetheless, the matches had their promising moments.
Senior and co-captain Thomas Mattsson pulled out an epic five-game win against Yale’s No. 1, which lasted about 90 minutes.
“I’m happy that I came back and won that [after being] down 2-1,” Mattsson said. “The crowd really helped today … Every time I won a point, I had 100 people cheering for me.”
That remarkable victory is very telling of Mattsson’s improvement over the past year.
“Thomas last year was probably ranked in the 40’s, and he’s moved his ranking up 20 spots,” Wyant said. “I can’t tell you how difficult that is to do.”
Wyant also said new assistant coach Randy Lim was a big factor in Mattsson’s progression.
The women had an even larger upside against Yale.
“They can compete with any team in the country,” Wyant said. “You could say we lost by a point — a single point — today, since we did have a match ball somewhere in there.”
It was unclear whether the previous day’s two tough matches affected the Quakers on Sunday.
“I felt a little bit more tired,” Yarden Odinak, Penn’s No. 4 said. “Even more than physical … you feel mentally tired.
“I don’t think it made any difference,” added Odinak, who won her match in the 5-4 loss to the Bulldogs (14-0, 5-0). “We played really well. I’m not sure we could have done anything more.”
There is a chance the Red and the Blue (6-3, 3-2) will face Yale again in the year-end tournament.
“I think that we could beat them,” Odinak said.
The men won’t face Yale again, and will likely end up in the B-division tournament, where they hope to improve upon their national ranking. If they win that tournament, they will finish No. 9, a bit higher than they ended last season.
“The team has exceeded my expectations,” said Wyant, signaling that the Quakers have accepted they will not participate in the A-division tournament.
Overall, the two Penn squads may have finished a combined 3-2 this weekend, but the sentiment is more optimistic than the record imparts.