PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men's squash team, ranked No. 6 in the College Squash Association's Preseason poll, opens its season Saturday hosting No. 9 Cornell at 1 p.m. Penn finished last season ranked No. 6 and with returning all-american's Gilly Lane and Lee Rosen, the Quakers are primed for another successful season.
Some things to think about as the Quakers head into the 2006-07 season...
Penn returns nine letterwinners from a year ago.
Of the Red and Blue’s nine returning letterwinners, six won at least five matches last season.
The Quakers return two All-Americans Gilly Lane (first-team) and Lee Rosen (second-team).
Lane joins Richard Repetto (2002-04), Steve Scharff (1993-95) and Steward Ballard (1986, 88, 89) as the only Penn players to earn All-America status three times.
Lane also notched his third All-Ivy selection in 2006.
Penn returns four players ranked in the top-50 in the final 2005-06 CSA individual rankings.
The Quakers were ranked No. 6 in the CSA final team rankings.
At last year’s CSA Individuals, Rosen upset 13th-seed Eduardo Pereira of Trinity, 3-0.
Graham Bassett, Andrew Zimmerman and Ben Ende went a combined 11-0 in Ivy matches last season.
All 11 of Penn’s opponents this season finished 2006 ranked no lower than 15.
Five of Penn’s wins last season came against teams ranked in the top-10 in the CSA’s end-of-the season poll.
The Quakers lose only one letterwinner Jacob Himmelrich who went 5-2 overall and advanced to the Molloy Division final at the CSA Individual Championships.
Freshman Mark Froot is the nation’s second-ranked junior player and a member of the successful United States junior team that recently finished 13th at the Junior World Championships in New Zealand.
Freshman Chris Thompson won the 2004 Baird Haney U17 tournament and the 2005 Baird Haney U19 division crown.
Joe Raho, a sophomore transfer from Boston College, is a former nationally-ranked junior player and member of the U.S. junior team that competed in Pakistan in 2004.
Quoting Coach Thorpe-Clark
Talk about the attitude of the team heading into 2006-07...
This team is led by some great young men. Gilly Lane, and Ben Ende, are very experienced and motivated to succeed in their last year of intercollegiate competition. They are working hard and leading by example on and off the court. There is a real sense of excitement with what this team can achieve and they are working harder to ensure they maximize their potential both individually and collectively. Also, with an overseas trip planned for Sweden and Norway on the schedule this year, that in itself is great motivation for the guys to work hard and get the opportunity to travel and play overseas.
What area(s) do you think will be a particular strength this season?
We have one of the deepest lineups we have ever had and one of the strongest in the league. Just making the top nine will be quite an achievement. We have a group of about eight players who will be competing for a spot in the lower half of the lineup. I expect challenge matches this year will be very intense. I need to keep everybody focused and motivated and working hard on improving their skills.
What sort of an impact will the freshman class have?
We have a very strong class joining the team this year, led by Mark Froot who played No. 2 for the U.S. Junior team at the World Championships this past summer. Chris Thompson, Brooks Russell and Colin Jacobsen all have considerable junior tournament experience along with the addition of transfer Joey Raho who was also a member of the 2004 junior national team. All of these players are working hard for a place in the line up. With the graduation of only one player from last year we will be very competitive.
On the team’s goals for the upcoming season...
Realistically, we have a great chance to have our best season in many years and break into the top of the rankings. Last year we had some great matches against the top four ranked teams. This year we will be even more competitive, so be on the lookout for some upsets. With a strong home schedule and home court advantage, I expect us to be ranked higher than in past seasons and take full advantage of the home crowd support and hopefully an unsuspecting opponent.
On the philosophy of your program...
I believe that if we work hard and have a good team chemistry on and off the court, then good things will happen. Each year we maximize our potential as players, and as a result we have exceeded our expectations as a team. I’m fortunate that I have a great group of young men who love to play and compete, and quite often they all just come down and play. It is easy for me to coach because they are all so committed and driven by the love to play and intrinsic motivation. For them, turning up early or leaving late is the norm.
On filling out the rest of your lineup...
I have a strong core of players all fighting for a place in the line up. They are all very good players with a lot of ability. Seniors to freshmen, they will all be in the mix.
Talk about the Ivy League...
Overall, the league offers the best and most consistent opposition. A win over an Ivy opponent is always hard earned and never easily gained. The Ivy matches are always the ones that bring out the best of both teams. With a long history of competition between teams, a win is always cherished.