After a busy season filled with plenty of ups and even a few downs, the Penn squash teams will end their regular season schedules with red and blue opponents of their own.
On Friday, both second-ranked squads will have their final home match of the season against Columbia at the Ringe Squash Courts. The men (9-3, 3-2 Ivy) will be looking to avenge a 7-2 loss to the eighth-ranked Lions (5-4, 3-2) from last year while the women (10-1, 4-1) will be looking to attain their fifth victory in a row against the No. 7 Columbia women (5-4, 3-2) to remain undefeated all-time against them.
Sunday will see the Red and Blue take on Cornell in Ithaca, with their men’s side (3-8, 1-4) coming in ranked at No. 12 and their women’s squad (8-5, 2-3) ranked No. 8.
“There’s a lot to play for this weekend,” said coach Jack Wyant. “Columbia’s men’s side beat us decisively last year, and they performed better against Harvard this past weekend than we did, so I would expect our men to be ready to go. As far as the women go, they have an opportunity to finish out a regular season with only one loss, and that’s a very exciting proposition.”
The match against Columbia will double as Penn Squash’s Senior Day. Graduating Quakers will play one final match at Ringe, adding higher stakes to the already-important Ivy matchup.
“The senior men were the first recruiting class where we had a full cycle to recruit them,” Wyant recalled. “We joke now about how I sat in some living rooms and promised things that were pretty far-fetched at the time. But there was a trust there that they were going to come help try to rebuild the men’s program, and I think for them to see the growth from being ranked 14 to now two has got to be rewarding for them.”
The senior women also feel a special bond to the place they’ve called home for their undergraduate careers. They reflected how being on the Penn squash team has helped them grow and improve in all different aspects of their life
“It’s been fascinating playing squash for four years at Penn,” senior Haidi Lala said.
“Every year is different and every year is hard, but to have 14 other girls going through the same thing as you is really fun. You learn so much about the game and how to be on a team, stuff that really applies to the real world. With the team being so international, you get to learn so much about other people, especially with so many opinionated voices on the team.”
“For me, coming to Penn to play squash, which is such an individual sport, I didn’t really understand fully what it meant to play as a team,” women’s senior captain Camille Lanier said. “But to see the team grow and expand across borders is great. Penn is such a big school, so being on the team really opened a window of opportunity for friendship and a break from Penn culture.”
Senior captain Yan Xin Tan held similar sentiments.
“Playing squash here as the years progressed, you realize that it’s not about yourself anymore.”
“I learned how to play for my team instead of myself. Even if you win your match but the rest of the team loses theirs, you lose. And of course, I would not have gone through four years without two other amazing seniors.”
So while on paper this final weekend may not stand out as the biggest weekend for Penn squash, it will certainly be one of the most meaningful for all the players on the team as they seek to send their seniors out in a blaze of glory.
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