The 2006-07 season proved to be the most successful for the University of Pennsylvania women’s squash team since its national championship run in 1999-00. Penn improved from 8-4 a season ago to 10-2 under third-year Head Coach Jack Wyant, while enjoying time ranked No. 1 in the nation.
This year’s team had a good mix of veteran leadership and promising young talent. Senior co-captains Radhika Ahluwalia and Paula Pearson stabilized the middle of the lineup. Freshmen Kristen Lange and Sydney Scott were called upon to hold down the top two spots in the ladder. To show the depth of the Red and Blue, sophomore Alisha Turner, who played No. 1 as a freshman, went 11-0 on the season playing at the No. 7 position. Along with Turner, Britt Hebden, Tara Chawla, Christina Matthias and Lauralynn Drury gave Penn arguably the strongest bottom of the order in the nation.
After disposing of Cornell, 9-0, to start the season, Penn faced an early-season challenge in Yale, winner of the last three national titles. An upset seemed unlikely after losses at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots. However, Pearson won at No. 3, and the bottom of the lineup showed its strength winning at the Nos. 6-9 spots to pull off the upset.
The Quakers returned from semester break with a pair of 9-0 victories over Williams and Franklin & Marshall to maintain their No. 1 ranking. Penn would be tested quickly as it faced the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 ranked teams over the final three weeks of the regular season.
Hosting No. 3 Trinity, Penn rebounded from losses at the top-three spots as the bottom of the order came through again. Hebden, Chawla and Turner all won their matches 3-0 to propel the Quakers to the 6-3 win.
Penn’s reign as the top team in the country came to a halt three days later at Princeton, where the Quakers suffered a 7-2 loss. The Red and Blue rebounded nicely, defeating No. 3 Harvard, 6-3, and No. 6 Dartmouth, 9-0, to close out the regular season.
Heading into the Howe Cup as the No. 2 seed, Penn was still in contention for a shot at the national championship. A 9-0 win over Williams in the first round set up a rematch with Harvard for a trip to the championship. This time the Crimson returned the favor with a 6-3 victory. The Quakers were doomed by losses at the top-five spots. Penn bounced back the next day, downing Yale, 6-3, to solidify a No. 3 final ranking.
Returning seven starters who played integral roles in the team’s success, the 2007-08 Quakers will certainly have the makings of a potential national championship-caliber team next season.