The Drexel Dragons squash teams have not been around long, but they are knocking on the front door of being a top program in the nation. Drexel invited squash to become an official varsity sport in 2011. After two years, the women’s team finished with a ranking of 20th in the nation, and the men’s team finished 22nd.
A new program can only be successful if it brings in talent right off the bat. Head coach John White and his staff have done that the past two years, and this year is no different.
One of the players White is excited about for the men’s team is Canadian Michael Thompson.
“He will be a top-three player for us for the next few years,” White said of his incoming freshman. “Michael is a great addition to the men’s team.”
White again went out of the country to find the top talent. This time, though, he had to cross the Atlantic Ocean to find Noel Solomon of Sweden.
“[Solomon] will play in the top six and is another great addition to the team,” White said. “Our top six will be very competitive with the other top teams we play during the season.”
White also found three international players for the women’s team. Mary Fung-A-Fat of Guyana, Maria Diagama of Colombia and Elisa Money of Canada are all expected to make immediate impacts on the team.
“All of these three players will play in the top four or five on the team,” White said. “This will strengthen the women’s team dramatically.”
The men’s team is returning all of its players, which is one of the benefits to having a new program. However, White could not put the nail on the head for top returners for this team and gave the impression that competition for the top spot is wide open.
“All players that return fit and ready to play are key returners,” White said.
The women’s team is riding in the same boat as the men’s team.
“We are pretty fortunate that we did not lose any top players last season,” White said. “We did lose players that were great in captaining the team and giving their best to the program.”
Both Dragon teams had their fair shares of ups and downs. For instance, the men’s team had some close losses that haunted them later in the season.
“The men were very unlucky not to finish in the top 20. They had a lot of 5-4 losses during the season and also in the team championships,” White said. “Those losses made the team stronger, which will help us improve during the 2013-14 season.”
The women’s team vastly enhanced its performance from a season ago, and the College Squash Association took notice. The women’s team finished in the top 20 and was named the most improved team for the 2012-13 season.
The Drexel squash teams are looking to have a bright future ahead of them. By picking top talent from around the world, the coaching staff shows how much potential it sees in these teams.
“I’m very excited for the season to get underway, as we are bringing in some great recruits on both teams that will help strengthen the teams and give us the chance to get inside the top 16,” White said about his programs.
Even though it is the offseason, the coaches and players never stop improving on and off the court.
On the coaching side, White and his staff want to work on reaching out to potential future Dragons and keeping Drexel graduates in the loop.
“We are always working on the recruiting side for sure,” White said. “We also want [to keep in contact with] alumni, parents and all the followers of the squash program to let them know how we are doing and what our goals are for the upcoming season.”
As for the players, they know now what is expected of them if they want to break into the top 20.
“I would like to work on the team’s fitness and match play, but this is up to them [until] the start of the season. … Then the fun starts!” White said with a smirk.
The women’s and men’s teams will look to keep improving into the 2013-14 season. If the recruits live up to their potential and the players improve in the offseason, we could see both teams making a run for a top-16 ranking.