Beginnings can bring about an array of emotions, ranging from excitement to nervousness to anticipation. In the case of the Drexel men’s (4-5) and women’s (0-5) squash teams, all of these emotions and more have applied during their first full season of play.
The fall portion of the season has come to a close, with both sides making immediate strides in a relatively short space of time. The winter portion of the season begins Jan. 27-28 at the Maine Round Robin Tournament. Each side will play four matches over the two-day period, with the men taking on Bowdoin College, Colby College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bates College, while the women face Bowdoin, Colby, Wellesley College and Tufts University.
Head squash coach John White has been impressed with his team’s efforts so far this season.
“All of the girls [on the] team have stood out just with their knowledge of the game, considering that some of them have started picking up the game,” White said. “On the men’s side, our two captains have stood out as well. They’re starting to really serve as leaders of the team.”
Furthermore, White is proud of the camaraderie and togetherness shown by the entire squad as a whole.
“All the players, whether they are at No. 1 or No. 9, realize that their contributions count as a point for the team’s win,” he continued. “It’s not just the top players that are getting the points. They’re all playing as a team in their own positions.”
With regard to the aforementioned round-robin tournament in Maine, White sees two specific Maine institutions as being the toughest test for Drexel.
“Bates and Bowdoin present the biggest challenges for both the men and the women,” White said. “Bates is ranked 11 spots ahead of the men’s team . They’re the two highest-ranked teams at the tournament, so we’ll have to be at our best.” Bates is ranked 18th in the College Squash Association rankings while Drexel is ranked 29th.
After venturing out to Maine, the Dragons will have the honor of playing their first-ever home matches here at Drexel following the unveiling of the Kline and Specter Squash Courts Jan. 23.
The courts, located inside the John A. Daskalakis Athletic Center, represent the unprecedented growth of the squash program at Drexel in its relatively young existence.
The men’s and women’s teams will play their first home matches Feb. 2 with both sides taking on Haverford College. The importance and overall significance of this moment was not lost on coach White — not in the slightest.
“It’s very important,” he said. “With Philadelphia being one of the biggest squash hubs on the East Coast, just to have a facility like this, it’s going to do wonders for Drexel Squash and Drexel Athletics. It’s helped for the alumni base [of club players], and it’s helped with recruits. The support we’ve gotten from Drexel Athletics and the University as a whole has been tremendous.”
The men’s and women’s teams will play three matches at Kline and Specter Courts before moving on to the postseason tournaments. The men will take part in the Men’s Teams’ National Championship in Princeton, N.J. Feb. 17-19, while the women will play in the Women’s Howe Cup in Cambridge, Mass. Feb. 24-26.
Both sides will conclude their inaugural seasons with the CSA Individual Championship in Amherst, Mass. March 2-4. For White, his expectations, given the circumstances, are realistic.
“I want my players to play as well as they can and come together as a team,” he said. “The men have a really good chance to win their division at nationals, which is awesome, with the women having a opportunity to improve the rest of the way as well. We didn’t set our expectations too high for the starting team, but they’ll grow over the next few years or so.”