The men’s and women’s squash teams look set for another chance at the CSA National Championships.
The men’s team retained its No. 2 ranking after losing to No. 1 Trinity in last year’s championship final round, while the women jumped up to No. 2 in pre-season polls after losing in the semifinals to Harvard last year. Both teams open the regular season against Penn and Bates this Saturday at the Brady Squash Center. Penn’s men’s team is ranked No. 9 in the nation, while the women are ranked No. 5. Both of Bates’ teams are ranked No. 12.
“We have trained really hard and everyone on the team has gotten better individually,” men’s captain Naishadh Lalwani ’11 said. “We have a great shot to go all the way.”
The men’s team lost Todd Ruth ’10 and Aaron Fuchs ’10 to graduation. The two played the second and third spots on the ladder respectively at the CSA Team Championship finals against Trinity, but despite the loss, Lalwani said that the team’s underclassmen have stepped up to fill their roles.
Hywel Robinson ’12, Richard Dodd ’12 and Lalwani will lead the ladder for the Bulldogs going into the weekend’s matchups. Kenneth Chan ’13, who was the Elis’ number one seed against Trinity in last year’s national championships, will play this weekend despite a previous knee injury. The team will be without John Fulham ’11, who is out with a strained groin.
Lalwani added that the team has been training harder this year and should have a better chance at defeating Trinity this year at the national championships. The Bantams have won the title for 12 consecutive years.
“Well Trinity is obviously the team to beat after all that they’ve achieved in the past twelve years,” Lalwani said. “But we were close last year and are a much better team since then. So, we’ll play hard and see what happens.”
The men appear to be set to take the the Ivy League conference again. Earlier in the year, the Bulldogs defeated No. 33 Columbia 9–0 and No. 6 Cornell 6–3 at the Ivy Scrimmages. In the final, the Elis easily beat No. 5 Harvard 8–1.
“[It went] amazing,” Lalwani said about the Scrimmages. “We won the whole thing. [It was a] really dominant performance.”
Despite finishing last season ranked No. 4 in the nation, the women’s squash team hopes to capture both titles this season. The team is led by captain Logan Greer ’11, Sarah Toomey ’11 and Camilla Tomlinson ’14, who hold the top three spots on the team’s ladder.
“This season we have a very strong freshman class, which has added depth to our team and enabled us to compete with teams we lost to last year,” Greer said.
Alia Aziz ’10, who played No. 2 or No. 3 for last year’s squad, graduated and will serve as a volunteer coach. According to Greer, the loss of such a strong player has been compensated by this year’s strong freshman class. Tomlinson is a top recruit from England and was England’s junior national champion last year.
“[Camilla] is great,” Caroline Reigeluth ’11 said. “She a mentally strong player and showed her strength at Scrimmages by winning all three matches.”
The Elis will take on No. 5 Penn and No. 12 Bates to start their regular season.
It will be an early season test for the Bulldogs, who have not beaten the Quakers in the past four seasons. In their most recent match against Penn in December 2009, they fell 8–1. The Bulldogs, however, did defeat Penn at the pre-season Ivy Scrimmages, 7–2. The team went on to win the tournament after defeating No. 1 Harvard 6–3.
“Our team had a great showing at the Ivy Scrimmages in November,” Greer said. “Penn is our first official match of the season and one of our toughest Ivy League opponents.”
Yale faces Penn at 11 a.m. and Bates at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Brady Squash Center.