January 24, 2014 by Steve Winfield
The Drexel squash team took the short trip over to the Ringe Courts at the University of Pennsylvania to compete in a match hosted by the Quakers. The Drexel men’s squash team fell to Penn 7-2 and the women’s team was defeated 9-0.
“Even though we lost, it was a great experience for our team,” head coach John White said. “It was an opportunity to practice what we’ve been working on in drills against one of the top teams in the nation.”
Prior to this event, Drexel was coming off a tremendous victory over Middlebury College. The team went into this contest without some of its best players. Due to a few injuries on the roster, an opportunity was granted to the underclassmen and they rose up and made a name for themselves. Specifically, Michael Thompson, the freshman from Vancouver, British Columbia, prevailed during a back and forth match, winning in four sets. In addition to Thompson’s performance, another freshman, Nat Fry, picked up a big win for the Dragons as he was able to fight off one of Middlebury’s top players.
“I was very proud of these guys; they were able to excel while putting aside the pressures of being a freshman at the Division I level,” White said.
Thompson’s and Fry’s triumphs over their Middlebury opponents would even things up at four apiece. The finale called upon sophomore Mark Kauf to be the deciding factor in this match. Kauf kept the fans on the edge of their seats as he fell behind early, losing two hard-fought sets in the first and second.
Down 2-0 and backed into a corner, Kauf felt the pressure of having the match rest on his shoulders. In the third set, Kauf seemed to take in the moment. He won the third set in a narrow victory, 11-6, then won again in the fourth set 11-3. With the match on the line, Kauf jumped out to an early lead in the final set and he dominated throughout, winning 11-4 to clinch the game for himself and a win for the team. For his performance, Kauf was named Colonial Marble & Granite Athlete of the Week.
With only a month left until the postseason, the Dragons are looking good at the right time.
“Given the fact that this program was established only a few years ago, the players have come so far and they’ve shown a great effort throughout the entire year,” White praised of his players.
When asked about his team’s preparation for the National Championships in February, White made it clear: “Right now, we need to focus on our matches in the coming weeks. We need to get back to the basics and work on staying healthy as we approach the end of the season.”
The Dragons have had some tough losses this year but it has been their impressive wins that have this team excited about competing in February. Both the men’s and women’s teams have the potential to make some noise. With all of the talent and experience on the team this year, things could get pretty interesting down the stretch.