It’s easy to overlook squash coaches Gilly Lane and Jack Wyant.
With all of the attention on Penn’s world-class players, it’s often forgotten that Lane and Wyant are themselves prominent members in the national squash scene.
Wyant, the coach of Penn women’s squash, is no stranger to the limelight. After playing squash throughout his childhood, Wyant started to make a name for himself at the junior level — winning the U13 and U15 doubles national championships before capturing the U17 singles title. Wyant then played college squash at Princeton, where he led the Tigers to the 1993 national championship. By the end of his collegiate career, Wyant was a three-time All-American, four-time All-Ivy, and the only three-year captain in the program's 75-year history.
“I had the chance to be captain as a sophomore, which was a blessing and a curse, but it was the first opportunity I had to be in a position of leadership with a college squash team. I think that experience was so impactful that I yearned someday to return to college squash,” Wyant said.
The next stop in Wyant’s journey was the Professional Squash Association. Wyant competed in the PSA for three years, playing in tournaments across Europe, North America, and Central America. Ultimately achieving a ranking of No. 3 in the United States, Wyant was able to represent the U.S. in professional play twice, including the Pan-American Fed Games.
“It was a great experience, but it was very tiring," Wyant said. "I didn’t really have a home since I was constantly traveling, and it took its toll. I was worn out, but if I were to do it again, I would try to raise more money in order to set up a base and just stay there."
As his playing career ended, Wyant was presented with the opportunity to coach for the United States. In 2007, he was named the head coach of the United States Junior Women's World Championships team and guided the squad to an eighth-place finish in Hong Kong. In 2009, he led the US team to a fourth-place finish at the World Juniors held in Chennai, India. That matched the best finish in the team's history and earned Wyant the US Squash National Coach of the Year honor.
Likewise, men’s coach Gilly Lane is familiar with squash at its highest level. Recruited to play college squash at Penn, Lane was a four-time All-American, All-Ivy, and team MVP as well as captain during his junior and senior years. He was also the first Penn player to receive the College Squash Association's Skillman Award, given to a player who exemplifies leadership, sportsmanship, and achievement over his career.
“I was fortunate enough to be coached by Craig Thorpe-Clark. He took me under his wing and molded me into a squash player. That was where my love and drive to play professional started. It was the best four years of my life, and I look back and wish I could do it all over again,” Lane said.
After an illustrious college career, Lane based himself in Holland for three years with a coach, manager, and fitness trainer to prepare for professional squash. Taking his talents to the PSA, Lane won three PSA titles, reached eight PSA Tour finals, and held a world ranking as high as 48th — the second-best ranking ever for an American.
“Basically, I had the blessing of my parents," Lane said. "They sent me to a great place to play squash at Penn. And I said this is something I want to go after, and they said if you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it, which gave me all the backing I needed to go after professional squash. It was an incredible experience. I met so many people around the world who I am still friends with. Without that experience, I don’t know where I would be today.”
As a member of the US National Team, Lane has been runner-up at US Nationals four times. In 2011, he helped the US team to a seventh-place finish at the World Championships in Paderborn, Germany, the team’s best finish at that event. Lane also was a member of the United States’ gold medal-winning men’s team at the 2008 Pan American Games in Cuenca, Ecuador.
When injuries forced him to stop playing professional squash, Lane transitioned to coaching, first taking a part-time position at his alma mater, Penn. He then started his own college consultancy company and volunteered his services to the junior national team.
Furthermore, since his playing career came to an end, Lane has become a US Squash Board member, athlete representative for US Squash to the United States Olympic Committee, and member of US Squash’s Nominating Committee. In addition, he is the owner of GL Squash and the GL Squash Camp.
“I really started to work on my craft," Lane said. "I started to prepare myself for what was next after squash and put myself in a position to become a good coach. I really believed the best players don’t become the best coaches. I had to start from scratch and surround myself with good coaches."
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