Squash star opens season strong

As the women’s squash season kicks into gear, the 2012 team’s MVP Millie Tomlinson ’14 continues to dominate on the court.

Ranked the second-strongest female player in the College Squash Association, Tomlinson showed her prowess last week after returning to Derbyshire, U.K. for Thanksgiving break, where she joined her hometown club team in the midst of its unbeaten season in the British Premier Squash League. Tomlinson helped Benz Bavarian Duffield continue its five-match winning streak as she swept her University of Birmingham opponent Katherine Quarterman, 11–1, 11–3 and 11–2, setting an early lead that helped her team clinch its most recent victory.

At Yale, Tomlinson started this season strong, defeating Penn freshman Tan Yan Xin in the opening scrimmage of the season on Nov. 11.

A 10-year veteran of the game, Tomlinson said she initially chose squash for its fusion of mental and physical agility. Since her first exposure to the sport, she has accumulated a string of titles and victories, including a 3–0 win over Harvard’s Laura Gemmell for the 2011 Ramsay Cup, which is awarded each year to the winner of the College Squash Association Individual Championship. Prior to Tomlinson, no Yale freshman had ever won the title.

After losing her first match of the season her freshman year, Tomlinson went on to clinch 12 consecutive victories and help the Elis seize the Ivy League and national titles as well as an undefeated 17–0 season. That year, Tomlinson was ranked first in the nation among female collegiate squash players. On March 10, 2011 the Yale Alumni Magazine granted her the title of “Yalie of the Week” in recognition of her athletic ability and contribution to the women’s squash team.

As a sophomore, Tomlinson accumulated a 17–3 record, falling three times to Harvard’s Amanda Sobhy. Her final loss to Sobhy, who Yale head coach David Talbott said is ranked among the top 25 squash players in the world, came in the finals of the 2012 CSA Individual Championships.

“It was great to be able to play someone who is competing on the pro tour and to see how the top professional women are playing,” Tomlinson said. “She seemed a lot physically stronger than many female college players. This year I am trying to improve my strength so that I will be able to compete on the same level, as well as improving my confidence on the ball.”

Talbott, who believes Tomlinson is “perhaps the strongest player to ever be at Yale,” expressed his confidence in her ability to outmaneuver her competitors in the 2013 CSA Individual Championship this March.

“Millie is now a junior and has continued to improve,” Talbott said. “She is certainly capable at this point … of reversing [her finals loss] this year and regaining the title.”

Tomlinson remains cautious about her chances of winning the 2013 Ramsay Cup, but she plans to “give it her best shot.” After training for three months before the start of the 2012–’13 season, she said she is optimistic about the team’s progress.

“I have had an amazing two years on the team so far. We had a good year last year, coming in second in the national and Ivy championships, and this year feels even better,” Tomlinson said. “We gained a great freshman class who have brought a lot of energy to the team, and everyone is very motivated towards achieving our goal of winning everything this year.”

The Yale women’s squash team will face off against Franklin and Marshall College this Friday for its opening match of the season.

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