This weekend, Penn men's and women's squash continued to show why they're among the elite programs in the country.
The No. 3 men's team went on a weekend-long road trip to take on No. 9 George Washington and then to Annapolis, Md. to compete against No. 16 Navy. The Quakers routed both George Washington and Navy, 9-0.
On the women's side, the No. 7 Quakers were barely edged, 5-4, at home against No. 4 Stanford, but the Red and Blue came away victorious with a 6-3 result against No. 15 George Washington on the road.
For the men (4-0), their shutouts this weekend can be seen as a result, in part, to upperclassman leadership.
"The upperclassmen such as captains [junior] Andrew Douglas and [senior] David Yacobucci are doing an excellent job of setting the tone in these matches," coach Gilly Lane said.
Lane recognizes that having upperclassmen win their matches early in the day can fire up his squad and lead to multiple wins along the way.
Against George Washington (1-3), Douglas and junior Yash Bhargava both won their matches, 3-1. This 2-0 cushion fueled the underclassmen to play with confidence. In fact, five out of the nine wins on the day came from underclassmen.
The Quakers then traveled to Navy (6-5) to take on the "extremely athletic" Midshipmen, as Lane described them.
The result was another 9-0 victory. To begin, junior Ryan Murray got the start in the ninth position on the day, where he gave the Quakers their third win on the day. However, one of the main stories was freshman Dillon Huang, who continued his undefeated match streak for the season. In addition, he hasn't dropped a single game in any of his four career matches, netting a 13-0 overall record.
"I'm very pleased with how the freshmen are coming along with their games, and we aren't exactly where we want to be, but we are working toward that and are continuing to develop our games in different areas where we struggled earlier in the season," Lane said.
On the women's side of things, Penn (3-1) had a 1-1 split this weekend, suffering a close loss to start the doubleheader against Stanford (1-1).
Coach Jack Wyant was pleased with his team's effort and how the group fought back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it at 4-4.
The contest's result came down to the final matchup of the day between Stanford sophomore Elena Wagenmans and Penn senior captain Jessica Davis.
The first game was a tight contest with Wagenmans barely edging out Davis, 12-10. However, Wagenmans went on to take the next two games of the match by an average of six points, which secured a team victory for the Cardinal.
The Red and Blue weren't going to let their loss to Stanford negatively affect them, however, as they came out swinging to take a 4-0 lead against George Washington (1-3) the next day. The finish was highlighted by junior Haley Scott and senior Lindsay Stanley, who set the tone with wins in both of their matches to start. Freshman Euwie Park sealed the victory by dominating her match, 3-0, and giving the Quakers their fifth point on the day.
One of the main stories of the weekend was freshman Amina Abou El Enin, as she is one of only two players on the roster who is still undefeated in matches this season.
For both the men and women, quick turnarounds like these are typical.
"Growing up and playing squash, you're used to playing a couple of matches in a day, so they're used to playing quite a bit in juniors," Lane said.
In addition, Wyant credits Penn Athletics for taking steps to mitigate the stress associated with doubleheaders for the squash program.
"One of the things [Athletics Director] Dr. [M. Grace] Calhoun has done that has been helpful from the coaches' standpoint is she's increased the size of the staff in terms of trainers and mental performance professionals, which has paid dividends," Wyant said.
All in all, both teams are looking strong early in the season, and they hope that this momentum will carry into the rest of nonconference play and beyond.