Photo: Grumpy Zach / The Daily Pennsylvanian
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Stunning the entire collegiate squash world, Penn sophomore and reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Reeham Salah has announced that she will be transferring to bitter rival and three-time defending national champion Harvard.
“This has been by far the most challenging few weeks in my life,” she wrote. “It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point.
"I've thought long and hard about this, and I've consulted all of my role models in life to get their advice. LeBron, KD, and even Benedict Arnold had a lot to say, ultimately convincing me that I've made the best decision."
Because the Collegiate Squash Association operates independently of the NCAA, the rising junior will be eligible immediately to join a Harvard squad that hasn’t lost since January 2015. And after the Crimson finished off a 15-0 season by crushing Salah’s Quakers in this year’s national title, Harvard will have an assemblage of talent the likes of which the nation has never seen.
“I haven’t made the decision, but she might be in our starting nine,” Harvard coach Mike Way teased. “It’s safe to say Reeham would fit into any style.”
After Salah’s announcement, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has moved Harvard’s odds to win its fourth consecutive national title from 2-4 to 1-6.
Penn’s odds, meanwhile, dropped from 8-1 to 30-1.
Unsurprisingly, the move has been met with immediate criticism, with dedicated fans even digging out a hypocritical tweet Salah wrote in July 2014: “Now everybody wanna play for Harvard and Trinity? Let's go back to being competitive and going at these peoples!”
But perhaps no one came at the former Penn superstar than renowned analyst Corey Henry, who gave a passionate first take:
“I’m viewing it as the weakest move I’ve ever seen from a superstar. … They were up, 3-1, in the  CSA finals, and you depart for the team that beat you, when you’re on the cusp of winning the championship for yourself, for the franchise that you’ve been with since you came into the CSA? That’s weak, plain and simple.”
As such, the partnership between Salah and former co-star Melissa Alves has come to an abrupt end. Ever since Alves joined the Quakers in 2014 and Salah followed a year later, the budding superstars have lifted the program to prominence together. But the two were always viewed as an an imperfect pair by the outside world — as if no team was big enough for both of them.
In any case, their relationship seems to be in serious danger now. Salah only sent a brief text message to Alves just after making her announcement, and the two have not talked since.
“[I found out] like y’all found out; on the news, on the cell phones, the social media,” Alves said. “Hurt? I mean, I'm fine. Move forward. Things happen in life, man. Sometimes you've got to move forward. I've got a great group here at Penn.”
The bottom line is that there are no certainties regarding whether that friendship will be repaired, or what direction the Penn program takes from here.
But what’s clear entering the 2017-18 season is this: the landscape of women’s college squash has been changed forever. Things are about to get nuts — Salah is going to Cambridge.