When one great squash player graduates, another steps up to take his place — or at least that's the plan at Penn this season.
Named Ivy League Rookie of the Year and second team All-American as a freshman, Nathan Kueh — now a sophomore — is playing in a top spot on the team and has contributed to men’s squash’s 8-0 record thus far this season. So far, the Malaysian native has yet to lose a bout, following up on last season when he went an impressive 19-2.
“Nathan has been an incredible contributor,” Penn coach Gilly Lane said. “He plays a really pivotal role … He’s just an incredible student athlete. I can’t say enough positive things about him.”
To anyone who saw Kueh’s record at the junior level, his collegiate success shouldn't be all too surprising.
After winning championships in the National Junior Circuit, he then went on to earn titles at the 2019 Asian Junior Individual Championships. Upon arriving at Penn, he brought this same skill and unique game style.
“He possesses a game style that is different from anyone I have ever coached,” Lane said. “He also brought an energy to the group that everyone fed off of.”
That energy comes easy to Kueh, who emphasizes that the environment of mutual support and positive encouragement has made studying in a new country rewarding and exciting.
“Everyone on the team really helps each other,” he said. “The community is really strong, and many of the upperclassmen on the team have become good mentors that always cheer each other on.”
Though the community is fostered by the players on the roster, it all starts with Lane, who Kueh deems a pivotal part of his Penn career thus far.
“[Coach Lane] is the nicest person I know,” Kueh said. “He welcomed me with open arms and has made playing on the team such a great experience.”
“Our relationship is incredibly strong,” Lane added. “Nathan represents everything we want Penn squash to be about.”
One thing Lane wants his team to be about: Kueh’s goals center on the team — the bioengineering major wants to help the team win as much as possible and play the best squash he can. With this, Kueh is hopeful his team will win both the Ivy League and Potter Cup this coming season.
After a loss to Harvard in the Potter Cup spoiled Penn's perfect run last season, the Quakers will lean on key players, such as Kueh, as much as they can as they seek to win it all this year.