Though valuable seniors leave the program each spring, the Penn women’s squash family never really gets smaller.
Close ties are kept beyond the ball-stained walls of Ringe Courts, and the four members of this year’s graduating class — Britt Hebden, Kristen Lange, Christina Matthias and Sydney Scott — are making sure that trend will continue.
“We do everything together,” Matthias said. “Everyone on the team is like your best friend — actually, more like your family.”
“We’ll definitely keep in touch with everyone,” Scott added.
Though spending four years playing together is enough to build close ties in itself, the time that the Class of 2010 seniors spent off the court has proven to be even more memorable.
During their sophomore year, right before a crucial Ivy matchup against Princeton, the squad went on a trip to South Africa where it not only competed in four matches but also gained new cultural insights.
For Scott, no other experience could compare.
“The trip really stands out because we had a lot of fun and got really close,” she said. “It was a great bonding experience.”
But for Lange and Matthias, the event that took place right after the trip to South Africa was even more unforgettable.
“I’ll always remember beating Princeton [Jan. 30, 2008],” Lange said.
Matthias agreed, and for good reason. That match set the Quakers’ senior quartet on the precipice of the only Ivy championship of their careers — and in thrilling fashion.
Penn dropped the first four matches against the Tigers before rallying back to win the last five and claim the victory, the team’s ninth in an undefeated regular season.
And while this year the Ivy League championship is out of their hands after an 8-1 loss to Harvard on Saturday, the Howe Cup is still very much in reach.
“Some of our best matches will be played at the Howe Cup, so what we can hope for is that we leave everything out on the table and play to the best of our abilities,” Matthias said. “And hopefully we will win.”
Though the season comes to a close March 7 at the College Squash Association Individual Championships, Hebden and her fellow seniors know there will still be life after collegiate squash.
“I don’t think it’s sad playing in our last tournament,” Hebden said. “We’re all excited about our futures.”
While Hebden is currently in the interview process hoping for a job in her native Philadelphia or New York, Scott is already sure of her plans — she received a job offer from Goldman Sachs following her summer internship. Matthias is planning on pursuing a masters degree in Peace Studies in Ireland, and Lange, though still undecided, will either play for the squash national team or continue her studies in the bioethics field.
Although their lives are going in very different directions, they promise that squash will continue to play a major role, whether this includes playing doubles competitively or having friendly matches against their future bosses.
“It’s been such a huge part of my life and it’s had such an impact.” Hebden said. “It won’t be as intense but it’s a game that you have for the rest of your life and I will definitely give back to squash.”
Lange was also clear about the impact that the squash team had on her life.
“It gives you a sense of pride in what you’re doing as well as a sense of confidence and honor,” she said. “I’ve learned that how you carry yourself is how people are going to perceive you, so whether you’re on or off the court you should behave with a high level of maturity and respect.”
Though few matches remain in their Red and Blue careers, the Class of 2010 has already left a definite mark on the Penn program.
“They have done so much for our program in terms of legitimizing it and they have turned us into an elite team year after year,” coach Jack Wyant said. “Apart from their athletic abilities, they also possess the sensitivity required to bridge the gap for the freshmen.”
Wyant trusts that their experiences on and off the court will translate into the real world.
“I hope that they will take the memories of hard work with them and hold them in good stand,” he said. “The friendships that they’ve developed will stay with them for a long time.”Comments powered by Disqus
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