Women's Squash Travels to Cornell for Season Opener

PHILADELPHIA - The Penn women's squash team kicks off the 2009-10 season Saturday when they travel to Ithaca, N.Y. to take on Ivy foe Cornell at 2 p.m. Ranked No. 4 by the College Squash Association (CSA) in the preseason poll, the Quakers expect to be one of the top teams in the country using a combination of six experienced veterans and five talented freshman.

Finishing 10-4 overall for a third place Ivy League finish last year, Penn welcomes back first-team All-America selection and Ivy League Player of the Year Kristen Lange to the top of the ladder. Lange was the runner-up at the CSA Individual Championship last season, falling to Trinity's Nour Bahgat, 3-1, and starts this season ranked No. 2 by the CSA. Ninth ranked senior Sydney Scott, also a first-team All-America and All-Ivy honoree, returns as well with the experience the Quakers need to be successful.

The Red and Blue's group of skilled freshman include No. 14 Rachel Goh and Yarden Odinak who competed in the World Junior Squash Championships this summer. They, along with newcomer Nabilla Ariffin, will likely make an immediate impact for Penn.

Last season, the Quakers defeated Cornell 7-2 in the season opener, then again 8-1 in the first round of the Howe Cup. The Big Red returns nine players from its 11 who competed at the 2008-09 national championship. Shivange Paranjpe is Cornell's top-ranked player, standing 25th in the preseason rankings.

Quoting Coach Wyant:

What are your team's goals for the 2009-10 season?

To get better every day. To stay as tight-knit as we have in recent years. To play our best on the biggest occasions. I hope each individual on the team comes to practice in a positive frame of mind, that we as a collective group understand how lucky we are to have one another in our lives, and how lucky we are to be here at Penn.

For the seniors, I want them to play their best and lead the team to greatness. It will take all four, but I think they have the stuff to get it done.

Who will be your most competitive opponents this season? What will be the keys to winning these matches?

Cornell, Yale, Stanford, Trinity, Princeton and Harvard. If we enjoy the moment, support one another and execute our game plan, we can be successful. Our mission is always to execute, not to win. Winning is a result of proper execution and meticulous training.

On paper your team has a great deal of talent, including a mix of Ivy League recognized returners, and newcomers who have competed internationally. How do you expect this experience to transfer onto the court for the Red and Blue?

This is the most talented team I have ever coached. If we stay healthy, work hard, work smart and maintain focus on improvement we can be very, very good. Challenge matches will certainly be fun!

In 2007-08 you won the program's second Ivy League championship, and last year you finished third in league. What do you see as the difference between this year's team and last's that will put you back at the top of the standings?

Our team is better this year, but so is the rest of the league. League standings will sort themselves out-right now our focus is on getting stronger, faster and getting to know all the freshmen.