Yale’s No. 4 women’s and No. 6 men’s squash teams fought hard this weekend, and each team came away with major wins against top opponents to defend their respective rankings.
The Yale women (7–0, 2–0 Ivy) had an impressive weekend sweep, in which they hosted No. 8 Stanford (3–7) and No. 16 Middlebury (6–3, 1–2 Ivy) on Saturday, and then No. 20 St. Lawrence (2–3) on Sunday.
Despite an exhausting three-match weekend, the Bulldogs’ high caliber of play earned them three perfect 9–0 wins.
Even given the impressive results, assistant head coach Pamela Saunders spoke of ways the team might improve.
“We need to work on being confident using straight drops and kills to win points,” Saunders said. “We also need to identify the big points a little sooner and play them a little smarter.”
The relatively weak opponents afforded the Bulldogs valuable practice and rest, especially given the team’s demanding schedule — Yale plays seven matches in the next 19 days.
Saunders added that her players are “gaining valuable experience with every match they play.”
This was the second consecutive three-win week for the Bulldogs, who remain undefeated.
The team’s three seniors — captain Anna Harrison ’15, Shihui Mao ’15 and Issey Norman-Ross ’15 — have all stepped up to lead a team that continues to work hard and improve on a daily basis, according to head coach David Talbott.
The men’s team, on the other hand, was coming off a tough loss last weekend against Columbia. Not only did the Elis drop from No. 3 to No. 6 in the national rankings, but it was also the first-ever program victory by Columbia over the Bulldogs. Moreover, the current national rankings mark the first time in recent memory that the top three rankings are occupied by non-Ivy teams.
The Yale men (4–2, 1–1 Ivy) faced tougher competition than the women’s team did this weekend, as they hosted No. 3 Rochester (6–3) and No. 1 St. Lawrence (8–1) back-to-back. The Elis bested Rochester 6–3, but then fell 6–3 to St. Lawrence.
Talbott believes the men played their best match of the season thus far against Rochester, though the team could not match that same intensity against St. Lawrence.
Liam McClintock ’17, Thomas Kingshott ’18 and Max Martin ’18 had standout weekends, with all three of them winning both of their matches.
The team’s primary goal is winning the Ivy League title, though they do have a chance to compete for the national title as well, according to Talbott.
“The past few matches have been a great way to sharpen [our players’] skills,” Saunders said. “It is also nice that we have been able to get our lower-ranked players on the ladders some valuable experience. They have shown great maturity this weekend and we hope that this will help us [going forward].”
Both teams travel north today to face perennial rival Trinity, whose men’s and women’s teams are ranked second and third, respectively, though Talbott considers their women’s team to be the best in the country.
Three years ago, on Jan. 18, 2012, the Bulldogs upset the Trinity men’s team 5–4 to end the Bantams’ 252-game winning streak that dated back to the 1998 season. Just two players, Joseph Roberts ’15 and Huw Robinson ’15, were on that squad, though neither were in the top nine spots.
The Bantams will be no easy task for the men. St. Lawrence — the team that beat Yale 6–3 this past weekend — fell 7–2 to the Trinity squad. Despite the challenge, the Bulldogs are confident in their ability to win.
“We are looking to rebound after losing a close one to St. Lawrence this weekend,” McClintock said. “Beating Trinity, especially in their own house, would be an incredible statement. We match up pretty well with them, and there’s no individual match we can’t win.”
The men’s and women’s matches will begin at 6 p.m. tonight at Trinity’s Kellner Squash Center.