After six weeks away from match action, Penn women’s squash suddenly found itself up against the very best of competition this weekend.
The No. 5 Quakers fell to No. 1 Harvard, 6-3, on Saturday, but redeemed themselves the following day with a 9-0 win over No. 8 Dartmouth to split the weekend pair at Ringe Courts.
Though the overall score on Saturday wasn’t close, the Quakers (5-1, 1-1 Ivy) fought until the end in each match, many of which lasted to the absolute limit.
Freshman Yan Xin was one of the players who battled through all five games Saturday, ultimately falling to senior Laura Gemmell. Xin won the first two games, but then Gemmell swept the final three, outlasting her younger counterpart in the end.
Still, the Red and Blue didn’t let the loss to Harvard (5-1, 2-1) shake their confidence going into the match against Dartmouth (3-3, 0-3) on Sunday.
“Our strategy was that we really just wanted to rebound from yesterday,” coach Jack Wyant said.
Winning her match on Sunday in three games (11-6, 11-6, 11-9), Xin helped lead her team to victory.
“I just focus on the things that are ahead of me and the things that I can do to improve myself,” she said.
The other eight matches played out in similar fashion, with the Quakers sweeping the Big Green in every match.
Wyant knew the Dartmouth match would be far less challenging than the previous day’s match, and he planned accordingly.
“There is a talent disparity between their team and ours,” Wyant said. “So we were able to rest a couple of girls who had some slight injuries.”
Two matches in two days might seem like a tall order. But Wyant explained that in high school, most of his players had two or three matches in a day, so having one each day is actually a reprieve.
Although Wyant doesn’t think the weekend’s doubleheader was a challenge for his team, the women will at least get a few days to rest before their upcoming match this Wednesday against Franklin & Marshall.
Wyant and his players agree that each match is a new opportunity and the Ivy League title race has become more interesting with Harvard’s 5-4 loss to Princeton on Sunday.
Regardless, this weekend’s mixed results should have little effect on the team’s mindset as they delve into Ivy League play.
“I don’t like to look at the big picture,” Xin said. “I just take it one point at a time.”