Penn men’s squash stands undefeated this season, but the Quakers haven’t let this get to their heads.
“I want our team to prepare well and put ourselves in a good position to succeed, and if that happens, that’s great,” coach Gilly Lane said. “But being together, supporting each other, continuing the chemistry that we’ve started, that’s what’s important.”
Returning from Thanksgiving break, Penn (4-0) prepares to compete against its toughest opponents yet. On Saturday, the Red and Blue will travel to the Lyman Squash Center at Rochester, where they will challenge the Yellowjackets (1-0). The next day, they will face off against the Saints (0-0) at St. Lawrence's Robie Squash Center.
National preseason rankings placed St. Lawrence, Rochester, and Penn fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively. Last year, the Red and Blue clinched a narrow 5-4 victory against the Yellowjackets, but lost 3-6 to the Saints.
Senior Ricardo Lopez, sophomore Ashley Davies, and junior Matthew Toth fill out Rochester’s top three spots. The trio helped the Yellowjackets achieve an 8-1 win over Cornell a few weeks ago, though No. 1 Lopez lost his match.
This year, however, Penn has added a few invaluable members to the team. Freshmen Aly Abou Eleinen, James Flynn, and Michael Mehl make up a third of the top nine and have each won all four of their matches this season. Sophomore No. 1 Andrew Douglas stressed how integral they have been to the team’s success.
“They’re the heart of the team right now, so without them … we don’t really have much,” Douglas said. “We’re pretty much counting on them to do well [this weekend].”
Eleinen has even secured a spot in Penn’s top three, along with Douglas and junior No. 2 David Yacobucci.
In addition to a strong group of players, the Red and Blue have embraced the time they had off before their matches. Lane explained that the team didn’t practice over Thanksgiving break.
“We gave the boys a week off to kind of just reset,” he said. “We felt that the rest was just better for us at the time, and I think the break came at a great time in terms of preparation for this week.”
“I’d say everyone is a bit more fresh mentally and physically this year than last year,” Douglas said.
But this week, the Quakers are back to practicing. Despite tough competition, they will hope to remain undefeated this weekend as they approach yet another break for winter vacation.
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