PHILADELPHIA - Ranked No. 5 in the College Squash Association's Preseason polls, the University of Pennsylvania women's squash team opens its season Saturday hosting Cornell at Ringe Courts. Returning three all-american's in Radhika Ahluwalia, Paula Pearson and Alisha Turner, the Quakers will have one of the strongest lineups in the country.
Some things to think about as the Quakers head into the 2006-07 season...
Penn returns 10 letterwinners from a season ago.
Of the Red and Blue’s 10 returning letterwinners, six won at least 11 matches.
Penn returns three All-Americans; Radhika Ahluwalia, Paula Pearson and Alisha Turner were all named second-team.
Pearson became the seventh Penn player to earn All-America status three times.
Turner is Penn’s only returning All-Ivy honoree. She became the first Penn freshman to garner All-Ivy since Pearson in 2004.
Turner was only one of two freshmen (Lily Lorentzen, Harvard) to earn All-Ivy.
The Quakers were ranked No. 6 in the CSA final team rankings.
Penn won five matches against teams ranked in the top-10 to finish the season.
At last year’s CSA Individuals, Caitlin Russell upended top-seeded Carly Grabowski to win the Holleran Division.
Ahluwalia won the Ramsay Division consolation final at the CSA Individuals to finish No. 19 in the country.
Tara Chawla posted 11 wins last season playing at No. 3-6 in the lineup.
Freshman Britt Hebden is currently ranked seventh in the United States in the junior U19 division, seventh in the world and is the top American in the WISPA Rising Star rankings, and is 81st in the world overall rankings.
Fellow freshman Kristen Lange is currently ranked second in the nation in the U19 division and fourth U25. She has won two U.S. Junior National championships.
Christina Matthias and Hebden were teammates at Penn Charter. They helped the Quakers to the Inter-Ac league title and a second-place finish at High School Nationals.
Matthias is the nation’s 11th-ranked U19 player. She most recently made the Round of 16 at the 2006 U.S. Junior Nationals and 2005 U.S. Junior Open Gold. She also advanced to the quarterfinals of the Dutch Open last summer.
Sydney Scott is fourth in the national U19 rankings. She is a member of the U.S. Junior Women’s Squash Team along with Hebden and Lange.
Quoting Coach Wyant
Talk about the attitude of the team heading into 2006-07...
Penn Women’s Squash returns the entire team from 2005-06 and welcomes four talented freshmen. The attitude is one of optimism and opportunity. The team can compete with any team in the nation much like the Holleran teams of the late 1990s and 2000. The team worked hard over the summer and has continued to do so since returning to campus. Their work ethic is the best I have seen since arriving. Every year has been building in terms of effort and intensity.
What area(s) do you think will be a particular strength this season?
The squad is strong 1-15. There is no particular area that we will rely most upon. I have faith in the entire ladder. My confidence is bolstered by returning captains Radhika Ahluwalia, C’07 and Paula Pearson, N’07, who have emerged as strong senior leaders.
What sort of an impact will the freshman class have?
They will have a big impact. They will be expected to keep up with the returning classesall of whom have demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of the team.
On the team’s goals for the upcoming season...
Our goals are to improve every day and develop good team chemistry. We look to maximize our talent individually and as a collective and cohesive unit.
How will you set the ladder?
The ladder will be determined by weekly challenge matches throughout the season.
Talk about the schedule...
We have many exciting matches this year, most of which are at home. We hope to create and enjoy an intimidating home court advantage.
Talk about the Ivy League...
The Ivy League is strong and deep. There are five, maybe six teams that could win the leagueof which we are one. It will come down to effort, passion, intensity and who wants it the most.