Men’s and women’s squash head to upstate New York this weekend, where both teams hope to continue their winning ways and remain undefeated.
The men’s team (3-0) faces a strong Cornell (2-5) team Saturday morning. In the afternoon, the Elis will play Hobart William and Smith Colleges (4-0). Cornell has lost to national powerhouses Harvard and Princeton.
The women’s squad (3-0), following a scrimmage against nationally ranked No. 1 Trinity, goes to Ithaca, N.Y., to face the rebuilding Cornell women’s program (5-3).
The Big Red men’s team is currently ranked fifth in the country, one spot below Yale.
“Cornell is supposed to be one of the stronger teams this year,” captain Zaid Haider ’03 said. “It’s going to be the toughest match we’ve had so far.”
At the top of their lineup, the Big Red have William Cheng, the Canadian Junior National Champion, who will go head to head with United States Squash Rackets Association Junior Olympics champion Julian Illingworth ’06, who is coming off his first collegiate loss to Dartmouth’s Ryan Donegan last weekend.
“He’s a good a Canadian junior, and he makes Cornell a lot stronger,” Illingworth said.
The Elis also are hoping for a solid contribution from Avner Geva ’06. He could play as high as No. 2 on the ladder but has battled a back injury all season. Geva could return to action this weekend, head coach Dave Talbott said.
After the Cornell match, Yale heads to Geneva, N.Y., to play Hobart.
“We’re the first top tier team to go play them there [at their new squash facility],” Talbott said. “For us, it’s a chance to get another match against a decent team.”
The Statesmen are 4-0 this season, but they will be underdogs against the nationally ranked No. 4 Bulldogs.
The Elis will look to build momentum over the weekend to take to their match against nationally ranked No. 1 Trinity on Jan. 21.
In February, things do not get any easier, as the Bulldogs host Princeton and play at Harvard, where Yale has not won since 1949.
“We’re right where we want to be,” Talbott said.
The women face a 5-3 Cornell team that should not cause many problems for the Bulldogs.
“They’re definitely in a rebuilding year,” head coach Mark Talbott said. “They’re one of the weakest teams in the Ivy League.”
Despite the talent difference, the Elis are not taking the match lightly.
“The other teams, you can never overlook them and their players,” Lauren Doline ’05 said.
Like its male counterpart, the women’s team has tough games in the near future.
“We use the matches also to prepare for our Trinity and Harvard matches which are two big matches,” Doline said.
Yale completed a round robin scrimmage on Jan. 15 against the Bantams, and the team played well, Talbott said. The scrimmage gave the Bulldogs an opportunity to adjust to Trinity’s unusual facilities to prepare for the official match later this season.
The Bantams are reigning national champions and a perennial squash powerhouse.
“We can give them a match, which I’ve never felt before,” Talbott said.