Although the snow stopped one of the three scheduled competitions for the No. 1 women’s squash team this weekend, it did nothing to stop the red-hot play of the Elis.
While half of the team traveled north to take on Cornell before heading home after their match with Hobart was cancelled, the top six on the team went south to play as individuals in the Constable Tournament held at Princeton. Both competitions were dominated by the Elis. Michelle Quibell ’06 defended her Constable title successfully in the all-Blue final against Amy Gross ’06. In Ithaca, the Big Red could do nothing to stop the Bulldogs, who won 9-0. Rachita Vora ’06 played the top seed and defeated Mairin Barnes 9-5, 9-2, 9-0. The Bulldogs did not lose a single game against Cornell, going 27-0 as a team.
Although she said she was glad to repeat her title at the Constable, Quibell said it was hard to play against Gross.
“It was awesome we were both in the final, but it was kind of hard to be in a competitive setting with one of my best friends and teammates,” Quibell said. “[The Constable] was great, there was some great competition and its always nice winning a tournament.”
Gross said each Eli had runs of point-scoring during their match because it was hard to keep focused. Gross won the first game 9-6, but Quibell came back to win the next three 9-4, 9-6, and 9-6. Gross said the two have gotten somewhat used to competing against each other because they have been doing it since they were 10 years old.
“It’s the kind of thing where out there it’s a different story than off the court,” Gross said. “We are both serious during the games but off the court we laugh with each other. We had a couple really good rallies. One was extremely long and we were both tired after that.”
Catherine McLeod ’07 also made it to the semi-finals, but defaulted on her matches against Gross and then against Trinity’s Vaidehi Reddy, who Quibell beat in her semi-final. McLeod was not feeling well and they wanted to make sure she did not overextend herself before the Elis’ match with the Bantams on Wednesday, Gross said.
The three other Elis to compete at Princeton were Frances Ho ’05, Miranda Ranieri ’08 and Lauren Doline ’05. Ho lost to Gross in the quarterfinal but ended up winning her consolation match to finish fifth. Ranieri lost to Reddy in the quarterfinal and Doline won the skill draw competition.
At the same time a state away, the other Bulldogs were equally dominant. Vora, Lauren McCrery ’07, Kate Rapisarda ’07, Sarah Coleman ’05, Nicola Shiels ’07, Sarah Barenbaum ’08, Elisabeth Hill ’08, Lindsay Schroll ’05, and Abby Epstein ’05 all beat their opponents in three games and as a unit gave up an average of fewer than five points per match. Even though these nine usually play seven through 15 for the Elis, they were able to handle the best Cornell could throw at them, Vora said.
“I think it was a very good match for the team,” Vora said. “We didn’t drop a single game, which was great. It gives us confidence and everyone got to play their shots.”
Vora, who usually does not plays No. 7 seed, said she was not nervous going into the game.
“I obviously didn’t go in overconfident, but it was a pretty good match for me,” Vora said.
The victories this weekend for the Elis came at a perfect time as they prepare to face the No. 2 Bantams on Wednesday, Gross said. If the Bulldogs beat the Bantams, the path to a repeat of their national title will be much easier.
“I think it was particularly good to see where we were at now,” Gross said. “We completely dominated at the top, we still won versus Cornell without our top 6, and everyone is peaking at the right time. We are technically focused and ready to win. We want to show we can get repeat, it’s pretty exciting.”
Quibell said she was proud of the team’s performance this weekend.
“I thought it was awesome preparation for the season ahead,” Quibell said. “It was a really good weekend for all of us.”