On a day off for most Penn students, the men’s and women’s squash teams didn’t let the elements nor their next door neighbors get the best of them.
Despite the frigid, sub-freezing temperatures outside, the Red and Blue put up sizzling performances and didn’t miss a beat on Wednesday en route to two convincing victories.
The women’s match was the first of the night. With No. 3 Penn looking to halt the Dragon’s three-game winning streak, the Quakers were also hoping to break a two-game losing skid of their own.
Conveniently enough, the match wasn’t even close for Penn, as the Quakers ran away with a convincing shutout.
“It was a decisive 9-0 win,” coach Jack Wyant said. “I’m happy to get the win.”
In just their second ever meeting with No. 14 Drexel (5-7), the Red and Blue (5-2) dominated in almost every facet of the game and didn’t lose a single game that night.
Drexel’s women’s team, which has only been playing varsity squash for three years now, is slowly improving, and has slowly built itself into an elite program.
“They’re working hard to build a winner,” Wyant said. “And I think they will.”
Penn freshman Anaka Alankamony, who debuted at the top position on the ladder over the weekend, continued her string of recent quality performances. The rookie has only one loss in her first campaign at the college level.
“She’s one of the most talented squash players we’ve ever had at Penn,” Wyant said. “She’s the real deal.”
The No. 10 men’s team was next to take the court, and the Quakers saw similar results as their female counterparts, winning, 7-2. Penn (5-2) picked up a much-needed victory in convincing fashion, showing the incredible depth of the all-around lineup. Like previous matches, the bottom and middle-thirds of the lineup continued to power the Quakers to victory against the Dragons (6-8).
“We’re focusing on staying the course,” Wyant said. “We’re just trying to get better day in and day out.”
The only negative to take away from Penn’s performance is the continued struggles of the top two positions.
Since the season started, no player has won from the No. 2 position in the lineup. Additionally, only once has the leadoff spot captured a victory in 2013-14, that coming in a Nov. 23 match against Williams.
Wyant has encouraged his young players to persevere through these struggles and ultimately believes that they will prosper.
“They’ve had their ups and downs,” he said. “The margin of error at those top spots is very small”
The men’s side played Drexel for only the third time in program, but Wyant sees the chance for a budding rivalry to emerge between the two squads. Wyant likens the potential of the matchup to the annual “crosstown shootout” college basketball matchup between Xavier and Cincinnati.
“Hopefully there will be lots of our fans travelling there in the coming years, and lots of their fans travelling here,” he said.
Lurking on the horizon for the Quakers is a return to Ivy play, as Penn will take the court against Wyant’s alma mater Princeton on Monday night.
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