Amherst College found itself in a familiar position Wednesday night: a doormat for Ivy League women’s squash teams. Yale handily beat the Jeffs 9-0 in Amherst, Mass.
Whether hosting or visiting its Ancient Eight foes, nationally ranked No. 11 Amherst has struggled. Amherst also fell 9-0 to nationally ranked No. 4 Princeton University Feb. 2 at Yale’s Brady Squash Center. The next day, Amherst lost 9-0 to nationally ranked No. 2 Harvard University 9-0 Feb. 3.
But within the Ivy League, the competition is more serious.
The Yale women’s squash team took one more step toward the Ivy League Championship Feb. 1, dominating nationally ranked No. 4 Princeton University 9-0 at the Brady Squash Center.
The nationally ranked No. 3 Elis crushed the Tigers, winning all nine matches without losing a single game. Team captain Gina Wilkinson ’03 led the way, losing only one point en route to the win. With the Howe Cup and powerhouse Harvard on the horizon, the Bulldogs are in good shape for the season’s final stretch.
On Saturday, while Yale (6-1) was the favorite heading into the match, its complete dismantling of the Tigers (5-4) was a little unexpected.
“I’m surprised we didn’t lose a game,” head coach Marc Talbott said.
Despite facing a top five opponent, the Elis stayed focused and got the job done in convincing fashion.
“Our team is pretty good at focusing 100 percent on the matches we play,” said Frances Ho ’05, who knocked off Frances McKay 9-3, 9-4, 9-1 at position No. 3. “We all played well as a team, and we were stronger than them.”
While Princeton was missing one of its top players, the Bulldogs did not overlook the Tigers, said Lauren Doline ’05, who beat Princeton’s Jen Shingleton 9-5, 9-3, 9-1 at position No. 7.
Yale also had a large supporting crowd at the Brady Squash Center.
“That made a huge difference,” Ho said. “You always want to play well in front of a crowd.”
The most one-sided victory came from Wilkinson, who defeated Anne Warner at position No. 4, 9-0, 9-1, 9-0.
“It was a nice way for her to go out, especially in her senior year,” Talbott said. “I definitely was proud of her.”
With Princeton and Amherst behind them, the Bulldogs host Brown Tuesday after an off weekend. Yale then hosts the Howe Cup, the largest women’s squash tournament in the world with over 300 players, Talbott said.
The Feb. 14 to Feb. 16 Howe Cup, a three-day tournament, is one of the two championships that matter most in women’s squash, the other being the regular season NCAA national championship, Talbott said.
In the second round of the Howe Cup, the Elis potentially will face Harvard for the first time this season. Later in the tournament, Yale could rematch nationally ranked No. 1 Trinity College, who defeated the Bulldogs 7-2 Jan. 21.
“We’re really being serious in practice,” Doline said. “We all really want to win it.”
After the Howe Cup, things do not get any easier for the Elis; they head to Cambridge, Mass., to face the Crimson for a match that could determine the Ivy League championship.
“Hopefully, we’ll pull the Howe Cup off — and hopefully Harvard after that,” Ho said.
The Elis are peaking at the right time to make a run at both the Howe Cup and Ivy League titles, putting their injuries behind them.
“Everyone’s getting healthy now and playing pretty well,” Talbott said. “We’re going to be ready, so we have no excuses.”