WOMEN’S SQUASH | Stellar weekend for women’s squash

The Elis defeated No. 7 Stanford, No. 11 Middlebury, No. 12 George Washington and No. 20 Bowdoin over the weekend.
The Elis defeated No. 7 Stanford, No. 11 Middlebury, No. 12 George Washington and No. 20 Bowdoin over the weekend. Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

The women’s squash team did not falter against ranked opponents on Friday and Saturday, posting four wins without dropping a single match.

The No. 3 Bulldogs (9–0, 2–0 Ivy) swept its opponents over the weekend to remain undefeated this season. On Friday, the Elis blanked No. 7 Stanford in a much-anticipated contest and beat No. 12 George Washington in the exact same fashion. Two days later, they did it again, winning both games against No. 11 Middlebury and No. 20 Bowdoin.

The team’s biggest test was its match against Stanford (4-2) and the Cardinal coach Mark Talbott, who formerly coached the Yale women’s squash team. After spending the week preparing for a tough Stanford team, Yale dominated at every position in its lineup. Playing with quickness and confidence, the team capitalized on frontcourt plays and minimized errors. The Elis were dominant across the board, losing only a single game over the course of nine matches.

“The improvement from the previous weekend was significant, as Stanford is very similar in talent to Cornell who we struggled with the week before, winning 6-3.  We were more focused and aggressive than the previous week and it showed in the result,” head coach Dave Talbott said. “Everyone played stronger, which was a big positive.”

No. 2 Millie Tomlinson ’14 played in the first spot and won three out of her four games to take the match against the Cardinals. In the second position, Kim Hay ’14 handily won her match in three games, as did the rest of her teammates. The Bulldogs had representatives from every class on the floor, with team captain Katie Ballaine ’13 at the third spot, Shihui Mao ’15 at the fourth and Annie Ballaine finishing play for the Bulldogs in the ninth spot.

No. 12 George Washington (6-6)  proved to be no match for the Bulldogs. Yale won all nine individual matches by 3-0 scores, with the exception of the four-game victories at the No. 1 spot. Tomlinson sat this match, so Hay played in the first position

The Elis’ winning ways continued on Sunday with two clean sweeps against No. 11 Middlebury (11-3) and No. 20 Bowdoin (3-9), in which every Bulldog on the roster played at least one match.

The four tournament matches helped set the tone for the type of play necessary for the team to win the Ivy League and, possibly, the National Championship.

“I think what we need is to keep the intensity up in training and during these matches so that we have that same mindset and focus in the upcoming matches against Trinity, Penn and Princeton,” Georgia Blatchford ’16 said.

Ballaine is proud of her team’s performance and feels that this weekend was a testament to show how hard they have been working.

“We have proven that we are mentally and physically ready to compete. We know what it’s going to take to beat these extremely competitive teams, and we’re not afraid to put in the hard work to do so,” Ballaine said.

The biggest match of the year for the Elis will take place today against perennial powerhouse No. 4 Trinity. The Bantams (9–1), winner of multiple national championships, have one loss but remain a hurdle for Yale to overcome if the Bulldogs seek the championship this season.

Playing at Trinity will be a big challenge for the Elis due to home court advantage. Trinity has colored courts and plays with a white ball, which is very different than the courts at Yale.

“The team is in the best on-court shape that I have seen all season,” associate head coach Pam Saunders said.  Ballaine and Blatchford feel improvements in agility, as well as personal performance in individual matches, will hopefully give Yale the edge.

Yale sits atop the Ivy League Standings with a 2-0 record and is on a nine game win streak. This momentum may be critical as the team faces Trinity and prepares to re-enter Ivy League competition on Feb. 2 against undefeated Princeton.

The match against Trinity starts tonight at 6 p.m.

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