While the top nine members of the Yale women’s squash team are returning from last year’s National Championship squad, a new Talbott will be running the show.
After consulting with his family, former coach Mark Talbott left New Haven this summer for sunny California where he will direct the Stanford squash program. Mark Talbott’s older brother and men’s head coach David Talbott was selected to take over his sibling’s duties Aug. 23.
Elis said they are sad to see their coach leave but optimistic about his replacement.
“Mark [Talbott] was more than a coach,” Amy Gross ’06 said. “He was supportive on and off the court. Mark is really hard to replace, but Dave [Talbott] is the best alternative to Mark.”
David Talbott already has some experience working with the team his brother recruited. He ran some of the women’s practices last year, and the Bulldogs expect that the men’s and women’s squads will do more similar workouts and practices.
Gross said she expects the teams to develop a closer relationship.
Both groups are unconcerned about sharing Talbott’s time during practices. Several players on both teams said that combining the teams during workouts and practices presents the opportunity for the women and men to play each other more frequently, which should noticeably improve the women’s play.
“The teams will practice together, but I want the women to keep their identity and autonomy,” David Talbott said.
To handle the added responsibility, David Talbott promoted Gareth Webber to head assistant coach and hired Julia Harris to run the Brady Squash Center and act as a second assistant. Webber has coached the national team in Wales and is the highest ranked English coach in the United States. Harris has worked as a volunteer coach at Yale, specializing in movement and balance. Talbott said he will divide the coaching duties between himself, Webber and Harris so that they all work with both teams.
“It is a tough situation for both teams to lose Mark [Talbott],” Josh Schwartz ’05 said. “Everyone would be happier if Mark was still here.”
David Talbott was also sad to see his brother go, but he feels he can continue what Mark Talbott started.
“Our goal is to repeat and not have two 5-4 matches with Trinity but kick the door down,” David Talbott said.
David Talbott possesses an illustrious squash career as a player and coach. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Talbott began playing professional squash directly out of high school at the young age of 19. He was ranked as high as 12th in North America and enrolled at Yale after 11 years in the pro circuit. Talbott won consecutive World Professional Squash Association Legends Championships in 1989 and 1990 while also coaching the Yale men’s squash team to national titles in those years.
David Talbott has been the secretary and professional tour coordinator for the World Professional Squash Association and currently serves as the President of the Men’s Intercollegiate Association.
Talbott has coached the Yale men since 1983, and in his 21 years in New Haven, amassed a 268-63 record. Talbott’s squad has captured 10 wins or more in each of the last 18 seasons.
The women’s squad David Talbott inherits from his brother is chock full of talent and youth. Individual Champion Michelle Quibell ’06 is back to lead the Elis in a repeat campaign. Only three of last year’s top nine will graduate this year, and the team’s three All-Americans from last season — Gross, Quibell, and Catherine McLeod ’07 — will all return for at least one more year. The Elis’ returning members include ten of last season’s National Top 50.
“All I can do is not screw up,” David Talbott said. “This is the best team maybe in college squash history. I just want to manage and maintain what they have.”