First-ever road trip to upstart Columbia for men's squash
Penn takes on Lions and Cornell in final dual meets of the season
· February 7, 2013, 11:22 pm
Laura Francis | DP
Even though the season is winding down for Penn men’s squash, the Quakers still have something to look forward to.
This weekend, the No. 12 Quakers will wrap their 2012-13 campaign with matchups at No. 11 Columbia on Friday and against No. 5 Cornell (13-3, 3-2) at home on Sunday.
But for coach Jack Wyant, the focus is all on Columbia until Saturday. “I know it’s an old coach’s cliche, but we’re just taking it one match at a time.”
Columbia (6-7 1-4), however, presents a unique situation for the Quakers. Until 2011, Columbia had no varsity squash team and no proper courts, largely due to a lack of funds.
Yet the recent revamp of the Lions’ squash program seems to have been successful.
“They’re a school that we beat 8-1 last year, and now this year, it’s going to be a tight match, I think,” junior Derek Chilvers said. “It’s kind of inspiring to see a team make so much progress in one year.”
“[Columbia has] really grown since last year,” senior Danny Greenberg said. “They lost to Dartmouth, 5-4, which was a team that beat us earlier in the season. So we’re definitely going to have a tough match with them on Friday night.”
Still, both Chilvers and Greenberg are looking forward to Friday’s match and hoping for a decisive team victory over Columbia.
“I think [it’ll] be a good challenge for us, a good test of our ability, and I think we’ll come out on top,” Greenberg said.
Wyant is also eagerly anticipating Friday’s match for an additional reason.
“It’s our first time ever going up there, so it’ll be a new experience,” he said. “I mean, I played college squash in the ‘90s … and [I’ve] never gone to New York for a college match.”
But even though Columbia may be foreign territory, the Quakers’ recent string of tough matches against teams ranked in the top 10 has prepared them well.
“The best way to improve, is to play against better people and to learn from it,” Wyant said. “I think that our guys have learned a lot. I think their tactics are getting better, their fitness is getting better and their ball control is getting better.
“It’s been a tough recent stretch of matches where … we played against top teams, but hopefully we’re better for it.”
That preparation will be needed against Cornell, which is currently just one win shy of matching its highest single-season win total since the 1997-98 season.
A factor that could help with Penn’s preparation is Greenberg’s long history with Cornell senior Nick Sachvie, whom he’ll be facing on Sunday. Greenberg played against Sachvie in juniors and at the Canadian-American Open.
“I definitely know his game and his style and he knows a lot about my game and my style,” Greenberg said. “He likes to play at an extremely high pace, so I think being able to slow the pace down and vary my shots will definitely help me.”
Despite the focus on Friday’s match against Columbia, the end of the season is still on Wyant’s mind.
“I’m pleased with the effort that the boys have put forth [and] their togetherness as a group,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to the last few weeks of the season with them.”