In the last 10 seasons, the Penn men’s squash team has been excluded from the ‘A’ tournament thrice.
This season will mark the fourth time.
Friday afternoon, the Quakers defeated Columbia, 7-2, at Ringe Courts. But two days later, they were swept by Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., to complete their regular season.
‘Storied program takes on up-and-coming club’ isn’t how one would normally describe a Penn-Columbia matchup — after all, both schools are members of the Ancient Eight. However, when it comes to men’s squash, that phrase accurately summarizes the Quakers’ encounter with the Lions.
The Red and Blue (5-7, 2-5 Ivy) boast the fourth-oldest Ivy League squash team, a program dating back to the early 1930s. This year marked the first for the Lions (5-10, 1-6) at the varsity level. Though the Light Blue do not have the most impressive record on paper, as a rookie club, they still are ranked No. 15 in the nation.
“[Columbia is] a team that’s on the rise, so for us to win against them is great,” coach Jack Wyant said.
The final match of the day was also the highlight of Friday’s meeting, as No. 3 Penn sophomore Daniel Judd notched a comeback victory in five sets.
“At that point, I really had nothing left to lose,” Judd said about returning to the court down, 2-1. “I started thinking more what I was going to do with each shot, and it made a big difference because I stopped having to run as much.”
Sunday’s 9-0 defeat to No. 6 Cornell (12-5, 4-3) was not a surprise — a Penn victory would have been a major upset — but nonetheless leaves a bitter aftertaste to the final weekend of the regular season.
The loss will weigh heaviest on Penn’s two seniors, co-captains No. 1 Thomas Mattsson and No. 4 Trevor McGuinness, who took the court during the regular season for the final time in their careers.
Though the loss may sting for the seniors, their teammates’ and coach’s warm words may help ameliorate the pain.
“Trevor and Thomas have done a great job leading the team this year,” Wyant said. “[They] have really helped lay a foundation for success.”
Judd added to the praise.
“It’ll be tough when we lose our two seniors. They’ve been incredible, incredible role models,” he said. “They really set the bar in terms of always trying to get better.”
Judd added his captains’ leadership would help them at nationals in a week and a half, and in future seasons as well.
Penn is currently ranked No. 9 nationally, a ranking which, if maintained, would give the Quakers the first seed in the B-division tournament. If they win at nationals, they would improve upon last year’s second-place finish.