Has Penn men’s squash turned the corner? Is the women’s squash team finally ready to take down Harvard and Trinity? One is left to ponder the future of both squads after their surprising performances at last weekend’s Ivy Scrimmages.
The women’s side came out of the weekend with an unblemished record after a 3-0 run through the season-opening tournament. Capping the weekend with a 5-4 nail-biting win over the Tigers has given this team plenty of confidence to take into the upcoming season.
It only takes three wins at the Howe Cup tournament to walk away as national champs, and Penn women’s squash will have to get used to playing on a big stage if they want to take down Harvard and Trinity at year’s end.
“We have an unbelievable amount of talent on the women’s side,” assistant coach Richard Dodd said. “With enough hard work we think we definitely think we have a chance.”
January 11th and January 14th are two dates the Red and Blue will have circled on their calendars as Harvard and Trinity come to Ringe in a post-New Year battle for supremacy.
“This year I think we have a really good shot,” junior Yan Xin Tan added. “Winning the Ivy scrimmages was a huge confidence boost for everyone.”
Holleran Cup runner-up and new senior captain Leslie Gill looks forward to the opportunity to help her team reach the next level.
“She’s done a really good job as an individual captain,” assistant coach Richard Dodd said. “She’s been a really good example for the younger kids.”
As the women’s squad looks to sustain success, the men’s team hopes to prove it belongs among the nation’s elite squash programs.
Princeton, a team that the Quakers had not beaten in over 40 years until last year’s upset at Ringe, fell to the Red and Blue for the second consecutive meeting 6-3. With two consecutive victories against the Tigers, Penn men’s squash would like to think that they have started a new chapter in the Penn-Princeton rivalry.
Only this time Penn looks to be the one to win for the next 40 years.
“It was a good way to back up our win [against Princeton] last year,” Dodd added. “Penn squash is a force to be reckoned with.”
Harvard, a team that dominated the Quakers with two 9-0 victories, only narrowly escaped in New Haven with a 6-3 advantage. With a roster filled with unseasoned freshmen, the Red and Blue look to use their team’s youth to their advantage.
“There’s a great environment and lots of enthusiasm,” freshmen Anders Larson said. “I think that contributes to our success.”
Senior captain Jack Maine, in his second year as captain of the men’s squad, also referenced the team’s fitness and grit as a key factor in upending team’s that might have more experience. Maine hopes to continue to build on last year’s success with a ‘Shock the World’ mentality.
“This is an exciting time for Penn squash,” Maine remarked. “We have an underdog mentality.”
As the eighth ranked squad, the Red and Blue will need to beat the odds again if they want to reach their goal of a top six ranking by the end of the year. The Quakers will have plenty of opportunities to improve on their ranking with matchups against every team in the College Squash Association’s top-10 rankings.
At their most recent practice, a small snake was found underneath one of the benches at the Ringe Squash Courts and released outside after being captured. According to Hinduism, this means that the team will have good luck in the near future.
Maybe their reptilian guest was just what the team needed to slither in to the already crowded upper echelon of college squash.
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