Thor isn’t the only one with a hammer, one that can strike fear into the hearts of opponents.
The Norse God of Thunder has some company now that freshman Reeham “The Hammer” Salah has taken over at the No. 1 position for Penn women’s squash.
Freshmen are no strangers to occupying the apex of the Red and Blue ladder. Senior co-captain Yan Xin Tan as well as junior Anaka Alankamony both saw action at the No. 1 position during their rookie campaigns. But as she holds down the top spot on the ladder for the women’s team, the Sammamish, Wash., native will have her hands full going up against the best college squash has to offer.
Despite having only competed in two matches thus far in her nascent squash career, she has quickly become revered by her coaches and teammates for her skill.
“Not only does she hit it hard,” head coach Jack Wyant said. “She hits it consistently as well.”
“And precise too,” associate head coach Gilly Lane added.
With two sweeps to her name already, Salah’s squash career is off to a great start. The Hammer’s dominance has been on display early on, as she has allowed an average of only three points per set.
Salah has had many opportunities to sharpen her skills before eventually coming to Penn. On top of winning the most recent U-19 U.S. National Squash Tournament, she has also represented Team USA for the annual World Junior Championships every year since 2013.
In squash, pace of play is often dictated by the power behind the opponent’s hit speed. The same way Serena Williams dominates opponents with blistering hit speeds, Salah has done the same on the squash court.
“The Hammer” has backed up her impressive moniker by using her strength to overpower her opponents. Known for tattooing the back wall with her shots, the sheer power exerted by Salah during matches has earned her the nickname straight out of the toolbox.
The world record for the hardest squash ball ever hit is held by Cameron PiIley, currently the world’s 24th-ranked men’s player, at 176 miles per hour. Salah isn’t quite ready to break any world records with her shots just yet, but that hasn’t stopped her from using her speed to force opponents into committing errors.
At fastest, her hardest hit came out to 134 MPH, but her velocity continued to climb as measurements were taken. Lane set the benchmark for the team with a team-high speed of 151 MPH, and sophomore Marwan Mahmoud on the men’s side came in right behind him with a blistering 150 MPH.
Speedometer ratings aside, Wyant made sure to stress that what separates The Hammer from others is the fact that she can translate her skills directly into the game settings.
“Anyone can hit the ball hard in practice,” Wyant said. “But she does it in the game as well.”
The thunderous sounds of her shots are enough to strike fear into any opponent that draws the Hammer. In order to preserve her perfect 2015 squash record, Salah will have to continue to channel her inner Asgardian deity.
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