If you haven’t heard yet, listen to the massive reverberations off the walls of the Brady Squash Center’s Exhibition Court: women’s squash is so hot right now.
Last night, the Elis (9-0, 4-0 Ivy) annihilated Amherst (6-10), 9-0. Captain Amy Gross ’06, Kate Rapisarda ’07 and Sarah Barenbaum ’08, playing at No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, did not give up so much as a single point in their matches. But for the nation’s No. 1 women’s team, a victory against the No. 16 Lord Jeffs was expected, Yale head coach Dave Talbott said.
“[Amherst] is dealing with the best team in [the league],” he said. “We’re just trying to get everyone [on the team] some playing time.”
With such a strong team, most competitors are similarly unimpressive, Jessica Balderston ’09 said.
After coming off a tough but successful weekend at Princeton, the team welcomed the easier competition, Talbott said. The break was especially welcome because several players, including usual No. 2 player Miranda Ranieri ’08, are injured.
“It’s good that the competition is not that challenging because some people are hurt,” Talbott said.
Fortunately, the weak competition gave more experienced players a chance to work on their in-game skills, said Michelle Quibell ’06, the nation’s top-ranked player.
“Our reverse boasts [were] sick!” she said, referring to when the ball is hit to the opposite wall before it ricochets into the top corner of the front wall. “It’s a pretty tricky move.”
One last fringe benefit of the lower intensity matches is that the players from both teams get a chance to catch up with each other’s on-the-court and off-the-court lives. Players from Amherst and Yale made amiable bench conversation about the competition, grad schools and summer plans throughout the contest.
Although the competition was less than fierce, some players faced hardships. Catherine McLeod ’07 said she “lunged funny” and pulled her “left bum,” which she had to ice down after the game.
With Amherst providing such little competition, the team was able to look past the Lord Jeffs to this weekend’s match against No. 7 Brown.
“This is sort of down time [for us],” Balderston ’09 said.
But “down time” does not mean that the team will be taking it easy. With what will most likely be both the national and Ivy Championship match against Harvard looming just two weeks away, Yale’s dominant team needs to maintain its strength, Quibell said.
“The team is sold from one to nine,” she said. “I don’t think we have a weak spot, so we just need to stay healthy.”
Harvard is expected to be the undefeated team’s hardest competition yet. But Yale has the weapons to repel the Crimson, including what Talbott called the four best players in women’s collegiate squash.
Quibell said the team’s strength as a whole is what will prove most beneficial in the end.
“It’s nice knowing that you have a great team to back you up,” she said.
The match against Harvard will be at home on Feb. 22nd.