After a tough start to the season, the Penn men’s squash team is more motivated than ever to get a win, especially over the rival Tigers.
After an 11-day rest, the Quakers (3-6, 0-2) will be heading to Jadwin Squash Courts to take on top-ranked Princeton (6-0, 2-0 Ivy)as they commence their four-game Ivy League road trip.
Penn has dropped its past four matches by a combined score of 34-2, with its only individual match wins coming from freshman Tyler Odell.
The historic rivalry and personal ties to the team drive the Quakers to vie for their first victory in 38 years.
“A DP writer once asked me, ‘Do you feel bad for Princeton when you beat them?’,” coach Jack Wyant said. “No, are you kidding? I want to win this match more than any other match of the year.”
Wyant wore the Orange and Black during his collegiate squash days under Princeton coach Bob Callahan. Wyant, the first three-year captain in the history of Princeton’s squash team, looks forward to facing and potentially defeating his alma mater and former head coach.
“I’ve always enjoyed going back to Princeton,” Wyant said. “I love the school and I loved playing for Bob, but I [have] to say, there is nothing I have enjoyed more than bringing teams and having success against Princeton.”
Sophomore Jack Maine, who plays at Penn’s No. 7 spot, also has ties to Princeton beyond the court. Maine’s father, mother and sister were all dual-sport athletes at Princeton, but Maine didn’t want the same experience.
“Going to Princeton almost felt like the obvious step,” Maine said. “I came to Penn, and I was excited for the unknown. [Wyant] really intrigued me to come and [Penn alumni Trevor McGuinness and Thomas Mattsson] told me to be a part of Penn squash.”
These ties push Maine to desire the win at Princeton. But Princeton is a very good team, and the Quakers will have to gain some momentum early and keep it close if they want to compete in the match.
“We need to stick to our game that [Wyant] has been telling us to play all year,” Maine said. “That’s playing aggressively and consistently. On paper, Princeton is a much more talented team, so our best chance is to play a very basic game and relying on our endurance.”
Leading the way for the Tigers is senior Todd Harrity, the top American player in collegiate squash. Harrity is a three-time All-American, All- Ivy selection and a key reason why the Tigers are one of the hardest teams in the nation to defeat.
Senior Danny Greenberg, who will be playing Harrity tomorrow at the No. 1 spot, is certainly aware of the type of player Harrity is.
“He always finishes in the top ten in the intercollegiate rankings,” Greenberg said. “I played with him a few times growing up in juniors, so we have a little bit of history.”
While defeating Princeton will be a huge task, the Quakers are especially hungry for an upset.
“Just going to Princeton, there’s a higher level of excitement,” Maine said. “My entire family from Princeton is going to be there. Playing against the school that I grew up admiring and idolizing is an honor, and I’m excited about it.”