Michelle Quibell ’06 upset reigning collegiate individual champion Amina Helal of No. 1 Trinity College Tuesday night, but both squash teams lost their first matches of the season.
Quibell pulled out a five game match, and captain Gina Wilkinson ’03 provided the women’s team (4-1) with its only other victory in the 7-2 loss in Hartford. And apart from Gavin Cumberbatch’s ’05 victory in the No. 9 position, no one else could secure a win for the men’s team against the four-time defending national champions.
Quibell defeated Helal 2-9, 9-7, 1-9, 9-3, 10-8.
“I knew [Helal] was a good player, but at the same time I had nothing to lose,” Quibell said.
Down 2-1 after three games, Quibell refocused and took the last two games to win the match.
“The second and third games I kind of lost my focus,” Quibell said. “I kind of said to myself, ‘Take it point for point.'”
Helal was nationally ranked No. 1 in the preseason, too. For a team dominated by chemistry and unity, Quibell’s win was a victory for the entire team.
“She’s playing awesome,” Lauren Doline ’05 said. “That was just huge.”
Though the Elis lost 7-2, the match was closer than the score, Doline said.
In positions No. 8 and No. 9, Doline and Abigail McDonough ’04 lost tight matches in five games.
Wilkinson, who earned the Elis’ other win, defeated Clare Austin in three games, 9-5, 9-7, 9-4.
The Bantams remained undefeated, winning their sixth game.
“I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing,” Quibell said. “We got to see exactly how good they are and how we stand against them.”
Though the men only lost one more game than the women, the result was more disappointing.
“We were overmatched a little bit,” coach Dave Talbott said. “That’s a program for the ages.”
With two Bantam seniors committed to professional squash, and reigning individual national champion Bernardo Samper potentially joining, Trinity has an incredibly strong team, Talbott said.
Despite the Bantams’ (5-0) talent, the loss was tough for the Bulldogs (5-1).
“Whenever you have a loss, even if it’s against the defending national champion, it’s obviously disappointing,” said No. 3 Josh Schwartz ’05, who retired from a match knotted at one because of a nagging hamstring injury.
Julian Illingworth ’06 fell to Samper in the top spot, 9-2, 10-8, 5-9, 9-1. Illingworth beat Samper last fall at the Price-Bullington Invitational Squash Tournament in Richmond, Va., but he could not repeat Tuesday.
“He was a little fitter and he was a little more ready to play [on Tuesday],” Illingworth said.
Despite the loss, this is the best Yale team since collegiate squash switched from hardball to softball in 1994, Talbott said.
“We’re just going to try to learn from it,” Talbott said. “Our goal is to win the Ivies, and I still think we can do it.”