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Senior Aly Abou Eleinen beats Yale's Harrison Gil during a matchup on Feb. 2, 2020 at the Penn Squash Center. Credit: Gary Lin

Penn men's and women’s squash kicked off their Ivy League season at the Penn Squash Center for a weekend of matches against Harvard and Dartmouth, coming up with some victories and some defeats.

On Saturday, the men’s team, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the country, went up against No. 2 Harvard, making for a highly anticipated showdown. The performance did not disappoint, as the Quakers prevailed 6-3 in a hard-fought battle. 

The first match set the tone for the day ahead, as graduate student Yash Barghava secured the win after five games. The other five-game win of the day came courtesy of junior Dillon Huang, as he clawed back from a 2-0 deficit over 97 minutes, the longest match of the day.

“Going into the third game, I knew my teammates trusted and supported me, so win or lose, I would come off that court knowing I gave everything I had,” Huang said.

Junior Saksham Choudhary and freshman Roger Baddour closed out their matches in straight games, the junior remaining unbeaten in regular season play as a Quaker. With his win, senior Aly Abou Eleinen improved his streak to nine consecutive wins this season, while freshman Nathan Kueh ended a successful day for the Red and Blue with a four-game victory. 

“The win against Harvard was exceptional, but our goal as a team is way bigger than that," Abou Eleinen said about the winning weekend. "We’re working towards getting better and better every day on and off the court. The main takeaway is that we are on the right track to our goal of winning a national championship.” 

The No. 9-seeded women’s team took on Harvard, the top national seed. While they fought hard, the Crimson proved too tough a challenge for the Quakers on Saturday. Ashley Manning and Emma Carter suffered the first losses of the day, with Carter pushing her opponent to four sets. There was a string of hard-fought matches throughout the day, as sophomore Avni Anand pushed her opponent to five games over 61 minutes, the last game tallying at 22-20. Freshman Grace Lavin also fought for 52 minutes before succumbing in the fifth game. 

Sunday saw the men’s team continue its winning streak, improving its record to 11-0 this season. It defeated No. 11-ranked Dartmouth in a clean 9-0 sweep, its eighth of the season. The Quakers put up a dominant performance, the only game being dropped by sophomore Nick Spizzirri, who won in four games. 

Looking to make up for the disappointment of Saturday, the women’s team bounced back to defeat the No. 12 Big Green 6-3 on Sunday. Juniors Ashley Manning and Euwie Park picked up straight game victories, while freshman Emma Carter and sophomore Avni Anand did it in four. Junior Amina Abou El Elnin pulled through to win in four games after losing a close first game that stretched to 18-16.

Both teams will be back in action against Trinity College on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Connecticut.