Going up against tough competition only serves to make a team stronger.
That’s why, after losing to perennial powerhouse Trinity, Penn men’s and women’s squash are confident going into Wednesday’s matches against Princeton that they can both bring home crucial Ivy League wins.
On the men’s side, the No. 5 Quakers (8-2, 2-0 Ivy) hope to take down the rival No. 6 Tigers (7-1, 2-0) and continue their run through the conference. Coming off of a tough 9-0 loss against No. 1 Trinity, Penn hopes that what it took away from the tough competition will help it against Princeton.
“I think we all learned really how hard it is and how we need to stick in with all of these teams and, going forward, if we can do that and impose the games we all play on other teams, we will be pretty successful,” senior captain James Watson said.
The men will also return to their usual lineup this week, after four members of the team missed the last meet due to illness. Even at full strength, the Quakers are not taking Princeton lightly, however, as the Tigers are also off to their best start in years and are coming in hot off of a big win over Yale.
Preparation will be key in stopping the rolling Tigers, but, luckily, Penn is coming off a 10-day break following the Trinity meet, so it has had a lot of time to prepare for this match. Princeton will be bringing their best to Philadelphia, but the Quakers wouldn’t expect anything less.
“We know that they’re gonna come in ready to battle and they’ve had a great season so far,” coach Gilly Lane said. “Whenever you get into Ivy League play, I think that you know there's just extra motivation in there to play your hardest, and I think the boys have had a tough schedule, but the tough schedule can help prepare them for a week like this.”
The women’s team have an even more daunting task ahead of them: Princeton (9-0, 2-0 Ivy) is currently the top-ranked team in the country and has not lost a match all season, with five sweeps among those victories.
A key to pulling off the upset will be getting in the right mindset. While No. 7 Penn has had some ups-and-downs this season, the team is coming off of a big win over conference rival Brown (5-4, 0-3 Ivy), and will look to keep that momentum going.
“Princeton’s currently ranked one in the nation, so all the pressure’s really on them, so were just having a positive mindset and we’re just working as hard as we can on the court and hanging out off the court as well,” junior Reeham Sedky said. “Now our mentality is as positive as its been at the beginning of the season so I think … we’ll definitely have a chance.”
With a lot at stake, both matches will surely be a fantastic demonstrations of the depth of talent and intensity that the men’s and women’s squash teams have to offer. The Princeton match is the first of a string of Ivy League matches that will come in the next few weeks and will decide who will be crowned this season’s conference champion.
Both teams have been preparing well and will rely upon each other and their training in the tough upcoming matches. Their ability to support each other and to leave everything out on the court will determine whether that preparation comes to fruition.
“I think the chemistry around this team has been fantastic, they've gelled at the right times, they've been able to pick each other up when others haven't played their best and vice versa, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow night,” Lane said.
“It’s the Penn-Princeton match, I don't think anything more needs to be said.”