The collegiate squash circuit is dominated by programs with talent from around the world. Trinity and Harvard have sat solidly atop the rankings for the past few years, fueled by deep squads.
Even though the competition has only gotten fiercer, Penn squash is continuing to close the gap.
After playing Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend, the Red and Blue traveled to Hartford, Conn. Saturday morning to face off against No. 2 Trinity. In two tightly contested matches, both the men’s and women’s squash teams fell to the Bantams.
On the men’s side, the No. 3 Quakers (7-2) offered Trinity (11-0) its toughest contest of the season. It was the first match the Trinity men had played this season where the contest was undecided until the third wave of playing. After the first two rounds, the score was tightly contested at 4-2, but the Red and Blue eventually fell 6-3.
The men have now faced off with the only two teams ranked above them in the CSA. The Quakers fell to the No. 1 Crimson earlier in January, 8-1.
“What we were really looking forward to was to have another opportunity to compete at a high level against another team who is ranked ahead of us,” said coach Gilly Lane. “Trinity, historically, has had unbelievable teams and ha[s] won a number of national championships. Last year, we were able to push them to a 6-3 loss, which was the best we had done against them in a really long time.”
Trinity is home to some of the top players on the collegiate squash circuit, making it all the more impressive that three Quakers were able to hold their own on the court again this year. Sophomore Aly Abou Eleinen secured a hard-fought win on Court 2, alongside junior Yash Bhargava and freshman Saksham Choudhary on Courts 5 and 7, respectively. Choudhary continued his winning streak, as he has not dropped a match since his collegiate squash debut.
“It’s a great confidence booster that I haven’t dropped a game yet, but at the same time I try to approach each new match as a new match and opportunity to get better and provide a new win for the team,” Choudhary said.
On the women’s side, the No. 7 Quakers were only able to capture one point from the No. 2 Bantams (9-0), from freshman Amina Abou El Enin, who is undefeated in her collegiate campaign. Despite their failure to claim points on other courts, the majority of the matches against Trinity were very tightly contested.
Coming off a win over Dartmouth, the women's (5-3) only two previous losses of the season were at top-ranked Harvard in early January and No. 4 Stanford in November.
The men also came into the weekend off a sweep over Dartmouth, which was the sixth 9-0 win of the season for the team. The men have already recorded six shutout victories in just nine games this season — just one shy of the season total from last year. These early, concise victories are indicative of the team’s trajectory this season.
“We have a very talented team, but we haven’t all played well on the same day yet. We haven’t had a day where all nine starters have played their best. That is very rare, so we still have a lot we can improve on,” Lane said.
The men and women will see more opportunities to test themselves within the Ivy League, as they will face off with Princeton in Penn Squash Center next Wednesday, followed by Brown on Saturday.