Coming off the championship campaign of 2004, the women’s squash team has no intention of letting up.
Last year, the team compiled a record of 14-0, showing poise in a number of close matches. On the way, the Bulldogs upset then-No. 1 ranked Trinity College in the regular season, and again in the final round of the Howe Cup, the national championship tournament. In addition, the Bulldogs boasted the Collegiate Squash Association’s individual champion in Michelle Quibell ’06, who was seeded No. 2 going into the tournament.
This season, the team is primed for more dominance. With all of the starting nine returning, the Elis have already shown opponents they will be a force with a 9-0 trouncing of Penn State Dec. 4. In addition, the top three Yale starters, Quibell, Catherine McLeod ’07 and Amy Gross ’06 occupy the first through third spots in the preseason individual rankings. In addition, there are eight Elis in the top 41. But even with the enormous momentum the team is taking into season-opening matches against Williams Jan. 14 and Dartmouth Jan. 15, players are quick to note they will have to work even harder this year.
“We have to remember that since we won last year, everyone will be out to get us,” said Lauren McCrery ’07, who is eighth in the Bulldog lineup.
She added that scrimmages against other teams at Harvard Jan. 5 were a good measure of the team’s status.
“[The scrimmages] showed us how much we have to work to keep ourselves ahead of the game,” she said.
Gross, who plays number three, agreed.
“We’ve only played Penn in a real match, but we definitely feel like other teams are gunning for us,” she said. “We’re looking to be really strong against every team we face, looking to peak at the right time.”
The team has stepped up its practice regimen in preparation for the season. McCrery said the team is ready for a test this weekend after putting in two practice sessions for many of the preceding weeks.
“Everyone is looking forward to playing matches finally,” she said.
Team captain Frances Ho ’05 pointed to the schedule as a significant obstacle. After this weekend, the team will play on the road until Jan. 29, when it returns to New Haven to face Princeton. The road trip will include a tournament and three team matches, with a rematch against No. 2 Trinity Jan. 26.
“We have a busy weekend, but we’re gunning for the Trinity and Princeton matches,” Ho said. “Hopefully, we’ll be in our top form for those matches.”
Players also agreed that attitude would be a factor in the Bulldogs’ success.
“At the intercollegiate level, it is very much a team sport,” Ho said. “It’s about wanting the same thing, winning it for each other and trying to push each other in practices and at matches.”