Penn squash finds success in Ivy weekend against Yale and Brown
The men's squad split its matchups while the women swept the weekend
February 3, 2014, 12:44 am·
On their first Ivy weekend of the season, Penn squash put on a show for their fans at the Ringe Squash Courts.
Clutch performances and strong play in general powered Penn squash to a combined 3-1 record in its Ivy weekend.
Saturday’s matches against Yale were special for the Penn squash program as it celebrated its 125th anniversary immediately following the matches.
The No. 10 men’s squad (7-3, 3-2 Ivy) quickly found themselves in a hole against the No. 3 Bulldogs (11-1, 3-0). Penn assistant coach Richard Dodd, a Yale alum, found himself in unfamiliar territory trying to coach his team to a victory over a squad he was a part of at this time last year.
“It was definitely unfamiliar,” Dodd said.
Co-captains John Dudzik Jr and Jack Maine as well as freshman George Lemmon raced out to 2-0 leads before falling in five games.
The rest of the ladder struggled to build any momentum, resulting in six sweeps for a 9-0 Yale win.
“The score line didn’t reflect the effort in the matches,” assistant coach Gilly Lane said. “I think [the boys] played well yesterday.”
The Quakers looked to rebound the next day against struggling no. 19 Brown (4-11, 0-4).
The Red and Blue jumped out quickly and never looked back en route to a 8-1 win over the Bears.
Sophomore Liam Quinn’s sweep of Brown’s Jack Blasberg was the first victory on the season at the second position on the ladder.
“Brown’s a good solid team,” Quinn said. “We’re a little more skilled than they are”
Penn’s only loss on the day came at the top of the ladder where sophomore Tyler Odell fell in a four-set affair.
With the win, the Red and Blue finds themselves with a 3-2 Ivy record heading into their final two Ivy matches: a remarkable turnaround from their 1-6 disaster last season.
“The boys have worked really hard,” Lane said. “They’ve done a really good job buying into what we’re doing here.”
Saturday’s matchup between the No. 5 Elis (12-2, 2-1) and the No. 3 Penn women (8-2, 4-1) gave a much more exciting tone to the 125th Penn Squash Jubilee Weekend.
After trading matches back and forth all afternoon, the score was tied 4-4 with just one match to go. What followed would be the most exciting match of the day.
Millie Thompson, a former CSA Individual Champion and senior, from Yale went up against freshman no. 1 Anaka Alankamony from Penn to settle the match. After trading games in a see-saw matchup, the fifth set saw Alankamony squeak out the decisive victory with Thompson’s shot into the tin.
“Millie [Thompson] is a really good player,” Alankamony said. “I played more for my team than myself.”
After the win the women’s team erupted and embraced Alankamony right outside of center court.
Senior co-captain Chloe Blacker kept her unbeaten streak alive after winning a five-set match after surrendering a 2-0 lead.
Fellow co-captain Courtney Jones, freshman Michelle Wong and sophomore Haidi Lala all won their matches to give Penn the final advantage in the match.
“Without [the team’s] motivation and support I don’t know if I would have been able to win today” Alankamony said.
Sunday afternoon was a much less thrilling matchup as the women manhandled the No. 10 Bears (9-3, 0-4) in a 9-0 sweep. Alankamony, the hero of the Yale match, was given the afternoon off as the Quakers won by only dropping a total of four individual games.
“All the women performed awesome today,” Dodd said. “They thoroughly deserved the win today.”
Blacker continued her unbeaten streak at 7-0 on the season while Jones and Wong are both tied for the wins lead with 8-2 and 8-1 records respectively.
“[Wong] has really stepped up this past month,” Lane said.
With the win, the Red and Blue extended their home winning streak to 10 games with the last loss coming from a 6-3 loss to Harvard Jan. 12, 2013.
Up next for Penn squash will be two crucial Ivy matchups with Cornell and Columbia.