Now into their third year as a Division I program, the Drexel squash teams are ready to take a big step forward this season. Both the men’s and the women’s teams open their seasons Nov. 16. The men will compete in a doubleheader against both the United States Naval Academy and Georgetown University, while the women will take on Johns Hopkins University. They both officially embark on their 2013-14 campaigns at 9:30 a.m. in Annapolis, Md.
The two teams will look to advance the program to the next level. They will be led by head coach John White, the former top-ranked squash player in the world. White is excited to go into the season.
“I’m very happy with how both teams are coming together both on and off the court … and moving so quickly up the rankings,” he said.
The teams are constructed in a way that reflects the infancy of the program at the varsity level. Each of the two squads is rich in young talent in the form of freshmen and sophomores. Between the two, there are only 10 juniors and seniors.
White said he likes what the freshmen bring to the team as the program continues to ascend.
“The freshmen are fitting in well with the team and all brought those little extras to the program,” he said.
Coming off two losing seasons in their first two years, the squads will have their work cut out for them. The men last year finished below .500 at 10-12, while the women were a tick below them at 8-11. The players will look to improve on that, but they can only do what they can handle.
White has a slight fear that they may be looking to do too much or will put too much pressure on themselves and throw themselves off. As they are young teams, it would seem to be a legitimate concern.
“Not putting too much pressure on themselves during their matches [will be a challenge],” White said. “This is [big] for all the players on both teams. Sometimes they want to win so [badly] that they forget how to play correctly.”
Despite those challenges, White has some pretty high expectations for each of his teams. To continue building forward and making positive strides, he would like to see each of his teams get to at least the top 16 in the College Squash Association rankings. A year ago, the men finished outside that class with a final ranking of 22, and the women, despite a slightly worse record, finished two spots higher in their list at 20.
“[There will be] some tough matches to make this happen, but I am very confident in both teams,” White said.
The teams have been hard at work looking to make that happen. At this point in the preseason, the teams have been in training for about six weeks.
“Getting the season matches underway and seeing them all perform after a good 5-6 weeks of solid training both on and off the court [is exciting],” White said. “This can be a great season for both teams; we just have to get the W’s.”
It may be a good time to capitalize on garnering the most support from the University and its body of students, faculty and alumni. Squash at Drexel may be at an all-time high after the athletic department announced in October that it has agreed to terms to host the U.S. Open Championships for the next 10 years. The program is on the squash map now more than ever.