This weekend, the women of Eli squash will find out that the title “Killer P’s” does not only belong in the men’s basketball lexicon. After taking over from Trinity as the queen of the squash hill last Wednesday, the Bulldog team has to prove it has a right to the top spot this Saturday and Sunday when it travels to No. 3 Princeton (3-0) and No. 5 Penn (7-0), respectively.
No. 1 Yale (6-0, 2-0 Ivy) has a stiff road trip ahead. The Tigers have posted convincing victories over Toronto, Brown and Cornell this season, beating the Big Red by the same 9-0 margin with which the Elis defeated Cornell on Jan. 18.
Princeton fields a young team — two of its top three players are freshman. Nevertheless, Yale head coach Mark Talbott refuses to let his team underestimate Princeton.
“[Princeton] should be a very good match,” Talbott said. “I mean, they’re very deep this year. Actually, they’ve got a lot of freshman. They’re not superstrong at the top, but they have tremendous depth.”
Ruchika Kumar, the fifth-ranked player in the country, will anchor the Tigers. Last weekend, Kumar took fifth place at the Contable Invitational, the individual championships for women’s squash. Another Tiger, rookie Marilla Hiltz, took the 4.5 ladder of the Constable with a 3-0 victory over Yale’s own Devon Dalzell ’04.
Yale’s Michelle Quibell ’06 took away the top prize, beating Trinity’s Anita Helal in the finals.
Both the Elis and the Tigers have a strong freshman presence in their starting lineup, making it difficult to predict the outcome of this Saturday’s match based on last year’s results.
But if history is any predictor of the future, the Elis look like they are in excellent shape to come out on top. Last year, Yale won in a 9-0 blanking of Princeton in February 2003. In the 2001-2002 season, the Elis downed the Tigers 7-2, the first time the Bulldogs had beaten the Tigers in over a decade.
A day following their test in Princeton, N.J., Yale will take on another green squad — the undefeated Quakers. Penn does not field a single senior, and only one junior appears in its regular lineup.
Despite their youth, the Quakers have plenty of firepower. Junior Caitlin O’Neil and sophomore Lily Evans both took first place in the 3.5 ladder of the Constable tournament. O’Neil beat Bates’s Maggie Smith in the orange bracket while Evans defeated Carly Grabowski from Lawrenceville School in the black section.
“We cannot go in there [to Pennsylvania] cocky,” Quibell said. “We have to play our best to pull through. I think the top of our lineup is going to be key this weekend. Against Trinity, we depended on the bottom [of the lineup], and I think this time we’ve got to depend on the top.”
Yale triumphed in last season’s meeting against Penn with a 7-2 victory on Dec. 7, 2002. Eli Lauren McCrery ’07 thinks this year’s Bulldog team has the talent and the energy to break out the brooms this weekend.
“We have a really great team,” McCrery said. “Everyone’s really enthusiastic and always pushing one another.”
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