Both the men’s and women’s squash teams returned to the home courts for Drexel over the weekend. Unfortunately, things quickly went south, and both teams lost their first two matches Nov. 22 and 23. They both did, however, manage to salvage the final match of the weekend.
Nov. 22 was when Drexel officially opened the Kline & Specter Squash Center for the 2013-14 campaign. It was Franklin & Marshall College, however, that opened up the season with the first squash victories on Drexel’s campus for the year. The men’s team easily knocked off the Dragons by a score of 8-1, while the women were just barely topped by the Diplomats 5-4.
Drexel’s highlight that day was Mary Fung-A-Fat picking up her second victory in just as many career matches. The freshman was able to defeat Emily Caldwell at No. 2, coming from behind to win 8-11, 9-11, 15-13, 11-6, 11-5. The lone men’s win came from Justin Singh, also at No. 2.
Nov. 23’s matches against Cornell University went much like the previous day’s for Drexel, although the final scores were nearly swapped. After falling hard to F&M, the men rebounded to come within a point of topping the Big Red but still lost 5-4. Singh was among the winning Dragons, as he claimed his third straight winning decision of the season.
Things were not as tight on the scoreboard for the women, as they were beaten badly in a 9-0 defeat. Each of the nine matches was decided in straight sets, as the team struggled from the onset.
Both teams were able to pick themselves up, however, and earn victories in their final match of the weekend against Williams College. The women ended their losing skid first, having gone first against the Ephs.
The Dragons came out with a bang, picking up three straight victories, including yet another one from Fung-A-Fat. Drexel was in position to claim its first home win with a set victory from Kaitlyn Money at No. 5. The sophomore clinched the match for Drexel, and for her clutch performance she was recognized as the women’s Colonial Marble & Granite Athlete of the Week by the University’s athletic department.
The men followed the women’s lead and picked up their first victory of the weekend as well. A 4-2 start to the match was enough to carry Drexel past Williams, before they won by a score of 5-4. Freshman Nat Fry won for the third time this season, and his win at the bottom of the ladder at No. 9 secured the men’s second victory of the season.
Head coach John White had prepared his players not to be too discouraged by the first two matches of the weekend. Their focus, he thinks, was a major factor in their ability to bounce back and pick up a victory.
“Back-to-back losses are always hard to take, especially being the first two of three team matches,” he explained. “Both teams stayed focused all weekend and took it one match at a time. I have always told them that dwelling on a team’s loss can only affect you [negatively] during the next match.”
The victories for both teams were a nice way to end the weekend. It was one that left White very pleased with his team as they continue building as a program.
He was particularly impressed by the overall weekend experienced by one of his players, Michael Thompson. The freshman had lost a crucial decision against Cornell, one that White said “broke his heart.” His victory would have helped the team defeat the Red Storm, but he could not come through in a tough decision. But he was able to put it behind him and help the team win the next day after an uplifting chat with White.
“I really did not know what to think and how he would play [on Sunday],” White said. “He came out well from the start and kept his composure throughout the match. He won in four to give [us] a good start to the team match. It was a very brave and awesome performance by Michael.”
Moving forward, White said he thinks this past weekend can be a big building experience for both teams. He alluded to the extra confidence the players got from at least hanging in during their matches.
“After this weekend, anything is possible,” White said. “The goal is to continue down the same road we are now. This weekend was a big turning point for both teams. … All the hard work paid off this weekend.”
He knows there is still plenty of work ahead, but for now, it was nice to see it rewarded.