Heading into their season openers, the Penn squash teams are headed in different directions.
One team is looking to heal old wounds while the other will be trying to make fresh cuts of its own.
Ranked 14th in the nation and slotted to finish seventh in the Ivy League this season, the men’s team will start its season Saturday afternoon against an 11th ranked Williams squad that bested the Quakers last season in a close match, 5-4.
“The exciting thing about this weekend is that we have the opportunity to immediately move up in the rankings playing a school ranked a few slots above us,” coach Jack Wyant said.
Being ranked 14th is not ideal for the Quakers as they start the season, but they understand the reasoning of the College Squash Association.
“It’s not where we want to be, but it’s where we deserve to be based on last year,” Wyant said.
“It motivates us to improve throughout the year,” captain John Dudzik added. “We want to be around 10 this year.”
As a result, the men’s team will be playing with a chip on its shoulder.
Williams won’t be the only school looking to knock off the young Quakers. No. 19 George Washington, currently on a three game winning streak, will square off with Penn on Sunday afternoon.
The Colonials were able to beat the Red and Blue last season in another close 5-4 contest. With victories in both matches, Penn will be able to avenge its two early losses from last season, plus make an early jump in the rankings.
The women’s team is in a much different predicament. Ranked third nationwide in the preseason and predicted to finish second in the Ancient Eight, the women are trying to show that they have what it takes to bring home an Ivy title.
The first stop on the road to the Howe Cup will be the home opener against a 13th ranked Williams team they dismantled last year, 9-0. Thanks to the Red and Blue’s wealth of talent, this weekend’s matchups are more of a tune-up before Ivy play starts.
“We’re gonna use these matches to practice what we’ve been learning all fall,” captain Courtney Jones said.
On Sunday, the women will play a doubleheader against No. 14 George Washington and No. 7 Stanford, teams the Red and Blue beat easily a season ago. Coming out of the gate strong, last season’s team went undefeated without even dropping an individual match until the onset of Ivy play.
“The plan is to try and replicate that,” Wyant said of his team’s approach to the early games of the season.
And looming in the distance is a Jan. 11 matchup with Dartmouth to begin the Ivy season.
These three matches will be the only games for the Red and Blue before they take on the Big Green, so Penn will have to knock off any rust or jitters in a hurry if it wants to be ready.