After a break from match play spanning more than five weeks, Penn men’s squash returns to the courts this weekend.
And now it’s Ivy time.
Seven of Penn’s remaining nine opponents hail from the Ivy League, and the Quakers have spent the past two weeks preparing and conditioning for conference play.
“I think that the men have worked very hard,” coach Jack Wyant said. “The two matches we have lost have been by 5-4 margins. We’ve had some bad luck, but I’ve been impressed by their work ethic and their togetherness. I think they have gotten better this year.”
The Quakers finished last semester with a 3-2 record, and they will be looking to show how much they have progressed over the course of the year against their Ancient Eight rivals.
The first opponent for No. 13 Penn (3-2, 0-0 Ivy) in 2013 is No. 3 Harvard (7-0, 1-0). The Crimson are a squash powerhouse, having won 36 conference titles since 1957. The program hasn’t lost to Penn since 1979, when former U.S. National Team Captain and former Penn squash coach Ned Edwards helped the Red and Blue reach the collegiate squash championship.
Harvard’s best player is junior Ali Farag, who in his first season in Cambridge was named Ivy League Squash Player of the Year, Ivy League Squash Co-Rookie of the Year and Harvard Male Athlete of the Year. Penn will need to bring its ‘A’ game if it wants to defeat the Crimson and break the 34-year streak.
But defying history isn’t Wyant’s biggest concern.
“I’m not so worried at this stage about breaking that streak for us,” he said. “What we are trying to do is to improve upon our previous results and to continue what we started this year in terms of changing how we play. That’s how I’m going to evaluate our team.”
Penn will also square off with Dartmouth, which has recently proven to be a formidable opponent. Last year, the Big Green squeezed past the Quakers, 5-4, and Penn returned the favor by the same score during Ivy League Scrimmages last semester.
“I sure hope [that the match is close],” Wyant said. “I would love for it to be a close match. I think our team has worked very hard since we played them in the Ivy scrimmages last fall, and we’re really looking forward to that Sunday matchup.”
Dartmouth’s best player is senior Chris Hanson, who has been ranked No. 1 on the team’s ladder since his freshman year. Hanson has never lost a regular season match to a Penn opponent.
Penn senior Danny Greenberg will be looking to change that as he tries to win his fourth straight match this season.
The team has been preparing assiduously for its competition this weekend and will step into Ringe ready to rumble.
“The kids have been back training since before New Year’s,” Wyant said. “They have been doing some two-a-days, and we have been working really hard on squash, fitness, and match play. I’m really excited to see how the team is able to compete this upcoming weekend.”
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