Squash earns national title
After two easy victories, Penn men take down No. 9 Williams to claim Division B championship at Hoehn Cup
February 22, 2010, 5:29 am · Updated February 22, 2010, 12:00 am·
After compiling a losing record in regular season play filled with highly-ranked opponents, the men’s squash team ended with a string of victories when it mattered the most.
At the College Squash Association team championships, the Quakers won the Hoehn Cup with a 5-4 victory over Williams. The win earned them not only the B Division title but an 8-7 record for the season.
“It is just great to end on a winning note,” Penn coach Craig Thorpe-Clark said. “Our goal is always to be in the top eight, but it does feel nice to come home with silverware. We worked hard and played well under a lot of pressure.”
Playing as the top seed in the second division, the No. 9 Quakers faced a fairly untested road to the final match.
In the first round, they defeated No. 16 St. Lawrence with an 9-0 sweep. They then beat No. 12 Franklin and Marshall, 6-3, in the semifinals. The win came despite losses in the top three ladder spots, two of which came at the hands of the Diplomats’ twin duo of Gabriel and Guillherme de Melo.
“We knew their top of the lineup was very good, but it takes five matches to win,” Thorpe-Clark said. “They are an improving team, but our strength is in the whole of the ladder and we had enough to get by.”
But with two wins under their belt, the real challenge lay ahead against No. 10 Williams, who the Quakers defeated 5-4 during the regular season.
In a winner-take-all match, Penn won three of the first five matches and didn’t looked back until the title was secure.
“We got off to a very good start,” Thorpe-Clark said. “Those first matches put us into a very good position and gave us momentum. It was incredibly close and many games could have gone either way.”
That early surge was led by freshman Zuhaib Mohiuddin who, in the No. 6 match, battled to an 11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 15-13 victory.
“He played extremely steady and was extremely focused,” Thorpe-Clark said. “He never took his foot off the gas in a very tense match. He never stopped applying pressure. He had his nerves, but he stuck with it.”
In what Thorpe-Clark referred to as a “nerve wracking, tough and critical game” junior William Browne was forced into extra points in the fourth game to clinch a 3-1 victory.
The game of note, however, was in the No. 5 spot, where junior Porter Drake “dominated his opponent,” according to Thorpe-Clark.
The win ultimately clinched the Quakers’ victory.
“Overall, we played with a little more control and a little more poise,” Thorpe-Clark said. “That level of control helped us win the critical points. I’m very pleased with the team. Not just for winning but for coming and playing hard this whole weekend.”