In the last matches at Ringe Courts – not just this year, but ever – emotions ran high for Penn men's and women's squash.
As the regular season came to a close this weekend, both teams faced two of their most important matches of the year. This stretch featured a road trip to Cornell on Friday and then Senior Day back home against Columbia on Sunday.
For both the men and the women, the regular season concluded with a split. Comfortable victories against the Big Red were followed by two nail-biting 5-4 losses to Columbia.
For men’s coach Gilly Lane, the dominating 9-0 win at No. 15 Cornell was especially important considering the Quakers' recent performances in Ithaca, where they had not won since 2005.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Lane said. “To win up at Cornell, 9-love, in the fashion that we did … I was very happy. It’s a tough place to play.”
That was followed up by a gutty performance against an extremely tough No. 2 Columbia (14-1, 7-0 Ivy), which had already clinched a share of Ivy League title. The Quakers (10-5, 4-3) fought hard until the very end of the afternoon, with the outcome not being decided until the final match.
The weekend was a similar story for the women. Coach Jack Wyant is taking positives from the end of the regular season even though the team’s record (7-6, 3-4) is not quite as good as it's been in recent years.
“We’ve got a very young team,” Wyant said. “I feel like we’re making progress and I love the effort and togetherness that the team has shown.”
For Penn players like senior women’s captain Melissa Alves, the match at home on Sunday was a particularly memorable one. Not only did it take place on Senior Day, but it was also the final time the Quakers will compete at the Ringe Squash Courts, which are being demolished and replaced by the beginning of next season.
“It was more emotions than what I thought,” Alves said. “To see all my teammates and my coaches … it was a lot of emotions today for everybody.”
The two Penn teams will compete next weekend in the National Team Championships, which consist of the Potter Cup for the men and the Howe Cup for the women. Both groups will likely have to face higher-seeded teams in the first round. The task at hand seems daunting, but the Quakers are confident about their chances.
“We’re kind of clicking at the right time,” Lane said. “I think we’re going to be a tough out … I don’t think teams really want to get us.”
Wyant has a similar optimism about the women’s team.
“It’s possible that we could spring an upset next weekend,” he said. “I feel good about our chances.”
So on a weekend when the Penn squash teams looked back at the memories of their seniors and home courts, they were also focused on what is yet to come.