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Youth revolution leads men’s squash to nationals | The Triangle
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Youth revolution leads men’s squash to nationals

Photo by Jack Baranoski | The Triangle

The Drexel Men’s Squash team, boosted by a large freshman class is, at the time of writing, about to compete on the national stage as the winter season comes to a close. 

According to the College Squash Association, Drexel University is ranked eighth in the nation with a season record of eight wins and six losses. The women’s team is similarly prestigious sitting in tenth position in the nation with a record of six wins and seven losses. What highlights these team’s impressive rankings is their focus on youth with five out of the 14 men’s players, and four of the twelve women’s players being freshman. 

Sean Murphy, a freshman on the squash team said, “five [freshmen] is a big year and that’s because a lot of people left last year.”

Along with Youssef Bastawy, Dima Dumitru, Guido Lindner and Charlie Taylor, Murphy rounds out the men’s freshman class. With such a significant portion of the squad being young and new to the team, the dynamics had the potential to be tricky. However Murphy emphasized the opposite being true. 

“We have one of the closest team dynamics among not just the teams here in Drexel, but also the teams in all of college squash,” Murphy said. 

He recounted a story from their match against The University of Virginia where one of the UVA players came up to him and said, “I’ve never seen a team so united.” 

Murphy credits the program for the excellent team dynamics stating that team culture has a huge emphasis at Drexel. 

“The coach has cherry picked most of these players not just based on their squash skills, but also based on their personality,” Murphy said. 

The freshmans’ impact is being felt on the court. In the last two matches, two to three of the ten competing players have been first years. In the Feb. 17 match against Harvard, three of the ten competing were freshman: Bastawy, Lindner and Murphy. Murphy and Lindner, the eight and sixth seeds, respectively, were both defeated while Bastawy won his match as the number two seed. In the match against UVA, Drexel won 6-3 with both Bastawy and Lindner winning their matches as the second and sixth seeds respectively. Any successes or failures that Drexel endures are heavily predicated on the performance of their freshman squad. 

A match for a freshman is always difficult, especially coming from a foreign country. Murphy, who comes from Ireland, mentioned some difficulties getting acclimated to the style of squash that is played in the US. 

“Worst thing I’ve faced is probably coming to grips with the new style of squash,” Murphy said.  “The squash here is very attritional based and the US squash players tend to get pretty intense and in your face on court which is not what I’m used to.”

The combination of a new environment, team and for many, country, puts a strain on the players which is why team chemistry is so crucial to any success. Thankfully, for Murphy and his peers, the team is extremely close and provides an excellent environment for a freshman.