Revitalized by new talent, both the men’s and women’s squash teams look to improve on their results from last season.
Although the Elis men graduated three key seniors from the top of their ladder, three freshmen in the top six will be able to make an immediate impact for Yale. The women’s team, however, faces less of a burden, having lost just two seniors from its top ten.
Last season, the men’s team secured a fourth place finish at the Collegiate Squash Association Team Championships, while the women’s team, affected by the injury of No. 2 player Kim Hay ’14, placed fifth.
“The expectations of the teams were high, and overall neither finish was satisfying and [was] a bit disappointing for both teams,” said head coach David Talbott in an email to the News.
Georgia Blatchford ’16 said that last year’s finish was particularly disappointing for the Elis women because the team has historically been one of the top in the nation.
Most recently, the Bulldogs won the CSA Championship in the 2010-’11 season and earned a second place finish in 2011-’12.
“Our senior class, one of the most talented we’ve ever had, won the championship their freshman year,” Blatchford said in an email. “It would be awesome if we could win it again for them this year.”
Early on in the season, the women’s team is showing potential to accomplish that goal.
The top three for the Elis women will consist of Hay, who returns from injury, Shihui Mao ’15 and Millie Tomlinson ’14, who won the Intercollegiate Singles in her freshman year and finished last year’s season ranked third nationally.
Newcomer Jenny Scherl ’17 will make an impact for the Bulldogs early on with a position on the starting ladder. Before Yale, Scherl was ranked eighth nationally in the US Squash junior under-19 rankings.
“Overall, the women are deeper than last year with this freshman class and the loss of only two seniors in the top ten,” Talbott said.
The men’s team will need to rebuild after losing top senior players Hywel Robinson ’13, Kenny Chan ’13 and Richard Dodd ’13, but the Elis are already seeing significant talent in their freshman class.
Kah Wah Cheong ’17, TJ Dembinski ’17 and Liam McClintock ’17 will all be playing in the top six for Yale this year, according to Talbott.
“We have a really great freshman class who can fill [last year’s seniors’] shoes and hopefully improve on them,” captain Eric Caine ’14 said.
Sam Fenwick ’16, Neil Martin ’14 and Zac Leman ’16 will also be key contributors for the Bulldogs. At the end of last season, they were ranked 16th, 26th and 31st in the nation, respectively.
Despite the success of last season’s underclassmen, Talbott said that the loss of key seniors will have an impact on the team.
“This year’s team is less experienced [than last year’s team] and would look to be a little less talented,” Talbott said. “But based on fall practice, this group is not far off. Our expectations have increased in the last month since practice began.”
All of the Ancient Eight squads will compete in the Ivy Scrimmages, a tournament that the Bulldogs will host at Payne Whitney Gym this weekend.
Because every Ivy League team is near the top of the national rankings, the tournament is a way for the Bulldogs to see how they match up against other teams, and to examine the strengths and weaknesses of each player on their ladder.
“Ivy Scrimmages are just what they sound like, they’re scrimmages,” Caine said. “Obviously every time we step on the court we’re trying to win, but realistically it’s more of an opportunity to get out there and show how hard we’ve worked and how good of a team we are this year. The results are secondary.”
The Yale men will open against Columbia at 10 a.m. on Saturday, while the women begin the scrimmages against Cornell at 12:30 p.m.