This past weekend marked the first official matches for Penn's squash teams since March 2020, which was before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Ivy League athletics. The Red and Blue hosted Chatham, Drexel, Dickinson, and Franklin & Marshall at the Penn Squash Center for a two-day tournament.
Entering the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, the men’s team performed just like it through the weekend. On Saturday, the Quakers stormed past No. 24 Chatham with a 9-0 victory; later in the afternoon, the team took down No. 5 Drexel with another 9-0 win, dropping only four games to the Dragons.
“I think [the players] were super excited. I think having the Ivy Scrimmages a week ago was really great for us, it prepared us for what was going to come this weekend,” men's coach Gilly Lane said. “The mentality of the team has really just always been to improve every day, and to get better, and we definitely have goals that we want to accomplish, but the main thing is keep improving and play your hardest and represent the school in the right way.”
The team carried its high spirit to the following day, defeating No. 26 Dickinson while only dropping one game. The same afternoon, the Quakers faced No. 15 Franklin & Marshall with a modified line-up allowing more players to compete. The Red and Blue finished the day with the entire team cheering for sophomore Dana Santry and senior Zach Bradlow, as both took down their opponents, leading to another 9-0 sweep.
“I think we were fortunate in some matches, but the guys played really well, and I was very proud of their heart and determination,” Lane said. “We have four captains this year, and they are in the top-six of the line-up, and they are among the best players [who have] ever played in the program. I think they are leading by example, and we’ve got a lot of young guys, so we are looking forward to a great year ahead, but it’s one step at a time, and we’re gonna take more matches.”
The women’s team, starting off the season ranked No. 8 nationally, had a successful weekend despite losing 5-4 to No. 6 Drexel. The Red and Blue secured an easy 9-0 win against Chatham on Saturday morning with the latter only sending six players to compete.
Later in the day, the team took on No. 6 Drexel, its highest-ranked opponent of the weekend. The Quakers fought hard, as four matches went to the last game to decide the winner. Yet, the Dragons enjoyed the advantage of having a more experienced team and ultimately defeated the Quakers by two points.
“Given the fact that we had such a young team, we had no seniors on our roster, and roughly half of our varsity members have never played college matches before, I think the experience factor was going to favor Drexel,” women's coach Jack Wyant said. “The women fought hard. It wasn’t the outcome we were looking for, but I want to stress that the effort was there, the intensity was there, the fight was there, and I think it bodes well for the remainder of the season.”
Not discouraged by the loss to Drexel, the Quakers swept No. 17 Dickinson and No. 18 Franklin & Marshall on Sunday, dropping only one game in total. They are looking forward to building on their performances in the upcoming matches this Friday.
Up next, both teams will play UVA, Williams, and Bates; the men’s team will take on Navy, while the women’s team will take the court against Stanford. All matches will take place in the Penn Squash Center from Friday to Sunday.