For the second straight year, the Quakers won’t be hoisting the Howe Cup.
On Friday, Penn women’s squash bowed out in the first round in an 8-1 loss to Trinity. In the consolation bracket, the Red and Blue dropped both of their matches against Columbia and Drexel.
The match against the Bantams was almost identical to the teams' first meeting on Jan. 26, which also resulted in an 8-1 Trinity victory.
As per usual, the Red and Blue (10-7, 4-3 Ivy) took the first spot on the ladder in each of their matches with victories by senior Reeham Sedky, who has just one loss this season. She swept all of her matches over the weekend to cap off a historic season and career with the Quakers.
“She had a fantastic career, and she’ll go down as one of the best male or female players to play at Penn,” said coach Jack Wyant, who is finishing up his 15th season at Penn. “It's been a great experience to coach her and to work with her as a captain this year, and I feel like she's learned a tremendous amount in terms of how to help a team achieve its full potential.”
Sedky added to her exhaustive list of impressive accolades this weekend. She won the College Squash Association’s Betty Richey Award, which is one of the most important individual achievements in college squash. The award is given to the person “who best exemplifies the ideals of squash in her love of and devotion to the game, her strong sense of fairness, and her excellence of play and leadership.”
“It means a lot. Squash is a big part of my life, I train 2-4 hours a day, so getting this award means a lot to me,” Sedky said. “It means all my hard work has been recognized and has paid off, and I couldn’t have done this without my coaches, family, or teammates.”
Nonetheless, Penn struggled to find success across the board in the first round of the Howe Cup. Against No. 3 Trinity (17-3), Sedky was the only player to win a game, trouncing Luz Sarahi Lopez Dominguez by a score of 11-5, 11-5, 11-4.
“[Trinity is] an immensely talented team, and at the end of the day, they were just too much for us,” Wyant said.
The loss landed the Red and Blue in the consolation bracket to culminate the weekend.
The Quakers were competitive in the next round against No. 7 Columbia, a team they defeated, 5-4, on Feb. 7. Sedky and sophomores Julia Buchholz and Haley Scott each picked up wins against the Lions (8-7, 3-4), while five of the Quakers' six losses were decided in matches of at least four games. At the end of the day, though, they weren’t able to come through with a victory, falling by a score of 5-4.
“We matched up against [the Lions], who were employing a different lineup than they did earlier in the season, and they were really hungry and excited to play us,” Wyant said. “In my opinion, they played closer to their potential than we did.”
Junior Lindsay Stanley competed in one of the day’s most contested matches at No. 5, losing in five games to sophomore Jane Pincus. It was a rematch of a Feb. 10 contest that Pincus also won in five games.
“I thought that Jane was really determined to get the win for Columbia, and I think that Lindsay had a great opportunity to get the win, but it just wasn’t meant to be,” Wyant said.
The loss put the Quakers up against 33rd Street rival Drexel (8-8), whom they also defeated, 5-4, to start the season. This time, the script wouldn’t go Penn’s way, as Drexel rode consistent play to a 6-3 victory.
Sedky, freshman Jamila Tamer, and sophomore Nicole Windreich notched wins for the Quakers, but Drexel picked up crucial victories in the middle of the ladder — including freshman Brooke Herring’s five-game victory over Buchholz — en route to a team win.
“They were really hungry and really excited for the match today. It was a nice way to end it since they’ve hosted us all year,” Wyant said. “While I never want to lose to anyone, I was really happy for that team because they’re a really nice group of women. They really deserved to win.”
This year’s Howe Cup left the Quakers with a last place finish at nationals, just two years removed from finishing second in three consecutive seasons. Harvard cruised to its fifth straight CSA championship after not dropping a single match all season.
This was the final action for the Red and Blue as a team, but some of the players will be competing in individual post-season play before finally completing their season, including Sedky, who will look to defend her national title.
“I definitely want to defend my title. I think that’s the goal coming in. Winning it last year was one of my favorite memories at Penn, so winning it again would be a great way to end my college squash career,” Sedky said. “I’m really bittersweet that it’s my last time representing Penn, but I’m also really excited to see what’s next in the pro circuit.”
Sedky decided to turn pro last year as a junior, and she will start playing in tournaments for money after individuals.
“The past couple of years, I’ve been playing in professional tournaments but haven’t accepted prize money since this would conflict with my NCAA eligibility," Sedky said. "I’ve done really well on the pro circuit, so I thought after last year that I was gonna continue doing what I love after college. Right after individuals, I have two tournaments in Canada and Richmond. The training doesn’t stop; I don’t just stop at individuals.”