Dec. 4, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Fresh off a second-place finish in the Ivy Scrimmage last month, the No. 3 Elis will face a big test in their regular season opener against No. 7 Penn on Saturday at the Brady Squash Center. The matches for both the men's and women's teams will begin at 12:00 p.m.
With hopes of an Ivy title following last season's second-place finish, the Bulldogs know they cannot afford to lose their opening conference match. The Quakers opened their season losing to No. 6 Cornell 8-1 and defeating No. 21 Middlebury 8-1 two weeks ago. While Yale beat that same Cornell team 5-4 in the Ivy Scrimmage, head coach Dave Talbott knows the Bulldogs face a difficult task in taking the down the always pesky Quakers.
"Our matches with Penn have been really close the past few years, so we are going in expecting a tight match," said Talbott, whose Bulldogs defeated Penn 5-4 last year, but lost 6-3 at home in 2006.
The Quakers return several key players at the top of their lineup and Talbott has stressed how important these matches will be for Yale to win. Replacing last year's No. 1 Max Samuel '08 will be no easy task, but Talbott is confident his team is ready to make a statement in this opening match.
"We feel we have great depth at the bottom and are ready for some tight matches in the middle," said Talbott. "The matches in the top three spots will be the key matches for us to show we can win at the top."
Talbott knows his team can compete for a title and talked about how much his returning players have raised their levels of play since last year. But freshmen Ryan Dowd and John Roberts, who project to be in Saturday's starting lineup, will be thrown into a tough conference match in their collegiate debuts. The team expects them to be big contributors to Yale's success from day one this season and they understand as well as anyone on the team what an important opening match this can be for the Bulldogs.
"This is an imperative match," said Talbott. "If we can show we have improved as much as we think we have, we can win."
report by Neil Horowitz '09, Yale Sports Publicity