Many enjoy the feel of a new car, but nothing beats breaking in a brand new squash facility.
This weekend, Penn men’s and women’s squash opened their seasons with the Ivy Scrimmages at the new Penn Squash Center. The men finished second, while the women took fourth place at the teams' new home.
The men's team had a strong showing, tallying a 2-1 finish for the weekend. On Saturday, dominant victories over Cornell and Yale propelled the Quakers to the finals against Harvard.
This match was initially tied at 2, but Harvard went on to take a 5-3 lead through eight matches, sealing the deal with a final score of 6-3.
Junior Andrew Douglas, who was ranked No. 3 in the country for the 2018-19 season, did not compete in the Scrimmages.
On the women’s side, the Red and Blue were still adjusting after the graduation of last year's Individual National Champion Reeham Sedky. However, the group still held strong, finishing with a 1-2 record, which landed them in the top half of a stacked Ivy League for the day.
Penn squeaked out a 5-4 victory in its first match against Columbia but dropped its matches to Harvard and Yale by final scores 9-0 and 6-3, respectively.
Both the men and women are adding five freshmen to the roster this season, and much of their success will likely depend on the leadership of the captains.
In terms of the scrimmage itself, the event has been hosted by Yale for nearly three decades, but at a meeting involving every Ivy League coach, it was decided that this year's event would be held in Philadelphia.
“[There was] unanimous agreement to allow Penn to host this event in conjunction with our ribbon-cutting ceremony,” Penn women’s coach Jack Wyant said.
There were 422 people who came out to Friday's official ribbon-cutting ceremony, which illustrates the alumni's commitment to the squash program.
For years, the city of Philadelphia has been seen as a central location for United States squash. This is due, in part, to the fact that Drexel's Daskalakis Athletic Center has been home to the U.S. Open Squash Championship for many years.
Now, Penn’s new renovations and unparalleled amenities and technology further push the epicenter of squash to Philadelphia. This new facility will host the College Squash Association Individual Championships in March 2020, one of the largest squash sporting events in the entire world.
Perhaps the most impressive additions to the facility are the two four-wall show courts. The tinting on the glass is dark blue, and the court floor is black. An optical difference for the players is the use of a white ball instead of a black ball.
Additionally, matches can now be played faster and more efficiently overall.
“We showcased four Ivy League teams at one time, when in the past we only had one show court,” Wyant said.
The new courts also offer a more accessible viewing experience for fans, who can now see the action from multiple angles.
The central overhead and lower-level seating that was somewhat present on the old Ringe Courts is now in full force at the new Penn Squash Center. The overhead vantage points allow full access to view any match on the six total courts on the top level.
“It provides a really unique home-court advantage where the fans are really up close. We can make it really loud and supportive,” men's coach Gilly Lane said.
The Quakers will have another opportunity to get acclimated with their new home court when both the men and women host Dickinson next Saturday.