Three matches. Three wins.
With high expectations heading into the season and strong performances at last week’s Ivy scrimmage, Penn’s squash teams opened up their 2015 campaigns with dominating wins over George Washington on Saturday. The sweep came one day after the men’s squad managed to get extra reps in a win over Navy.
Before the Red and Blue traveled to Washington to take on the Colonials, the men showcased their talents in Annapolis, Md., sweeping the Midshipmen, 9-0. Sophomore Anders Larson set the tone for Penn in the top position on the ladder, grabbing a 3-1 win to kickstart the romp.
While the trio of wins were important for getting the Quakers’ season off on the right track, they came as little surprise to the teams involved.
Heading into the matchup, the women were ranked third in the nation while George Washington (3-1) stood at eighth in the polls. A five-spot difference may not look like much at first, but the disparity in talent among teams ranked in the top ten was too great for the Colonials to overcome.
And throughout the weekend, Penn — a perennial powerhouse on the women’s side — dominated on all accounts.
The same held for the men, who entered Saturday as the nation’s No. 7 team and had little difficulty dispatching No. 16 Navy (14-1) and No. 13 George Washington (5-1), dropping only one game in two matches.
The results should come as no shock to Red and Blue fans — Penn’s men have not lost to Navy since 2001, while the women are undefeated against George Washington since the teams’ first meeting in 1977.
Although history repeated itself this weekend, new faces also made their ways into the record books. On the men’s side, the team’s three freshmen — Karim Hussein, Max Reed and Jonathan Zeitels — each started off their careers with the Quakers with 3-1 wins against the Midshipmen.
Hussein held his own for Penn (2-0) at the No. 2 position in both matches this weekend, finishing off his opponent from the Colonials with a 3-0 sweep.
On the women’s side, freshman Reeham Salah debuted at Penn’s No. 1 position. The Sammaish, Wash., native helped the Quakers (1-0) to a 9-0 shutout over the Colonials with a win of her own.
Fellow freshman Rowaida Attia joined Salah on the ladder, taking home a win in her first collegiate match. Penn’s trio of All-Americans — junior Anaka Alankamony, sophomore Marie Stephan and senior captain Yan Xin Tan — all played a part in the team win as well.
The only blemish for the Quakers on the weekend came from the man who set the tone for dominance on Friday. After grabbing a 3-1 win over his Navy opponent, Larson fell to George Washington’s Moudy Abdel-Maksoud in a 3-0 loss the following afternoon.
Larson’s loss was the sole defeat for the Quakers in all three matches, putting a slight damper on what would have otherwise been a resounding sweep. That being said, the scoreboard failed to reflect how evenly-matched some of the contests were, as two of the men’s matches against George Washington were a little too close for comfort.
Sophomore Derek Hsue and Zeitels both played out five-set rallies. After taking the first two sets, Hsue gave up the third and fourth by two points each before battling out a 12-10 win in the deciding set.
Zeitels found himself on the other side of the coin, facing two straight losses before turning it around to win the remaining three and clinch the match.
While both Hsue and Zeitels showed excellent resolve to close out their contests, the parity of those two five-set matches will remind the men that there is work to be done. Penn’s matchup with No. 9 Drexel on Tuesday is expected to provide the Quakers with a much more stern challenge.
And while the Red and Blue women can find some comfort in the ten-spot difference between them and the No. 13 Dragons in their battle on Tuesday, one thing remains clear: With so much of the season to go, neither one of Penn’s squads can afford to rest on opening weekend laurels.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.