The men’s and women’s squash teams will look to maintain their impressive early-season form as they travel to Providence, Rhode Island on Tuesday to play Brown in the Elis’ first official Ivy League match of the 2015–16 campaign.
The No. 6 men’s team (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) defeated Franklin & Marshall 7–2 in its season opener on Saturday, after finishing first in the Ivy Scrimmages preseason tournament in New Haven last month. The No. 4 Eli women (1–0, 0–0) also come off a decisive victory after beating the Diplomats 8–1 last Saturday.
But injuries to key players for both teams — captain Sam Fenwick ’16 and Liam McClintock ’17 for the men, and Jenny Scherl ’17 for the women — could leave the team with a youthful lineup that has limited collegiate experience. Head coach David Talbott was not sure on Sunday whether any of the three would be available to play against the Bears.
“All of us know we have to step up given the absences,” said TJ Dembinski ’17. “I am confident the team will rise to the occasion.”
The No. 16 Brown men’s team (2–0, 0–0) began its regular season with victories over Bates and Stanford, and the No. 11 women (1–1, 0–0) won their season opener against Bates before falling 9–0 to Harvard. The Elis come into both contests as significant favorites, as the Yale men have won their last 10 matches against Brown by a combined score of 87–2, and the women have achieved the same feat with an aggregate mark of 85–5.
Still, Talbott said the program cannot afford any slip-ups in the race for the Ivy League Championship, which is won by the team with the best regular season record against Ancient Eight opponents. Talbott said that winning this honor — which both the men and women last accomplished in 2011 — is the primary goal for both teams this season.
The new collegiate squash season has already featured several significant upsets, including victories for the No. 7 Penn men’s team against No. 4 Rochester and No. 3 St. Lawrence.
“We have to be really vigilant in not letting our guard down,” Pierson Broadwater ’18 said. “Just because we won [Ivy] Scrimmages does not mean that the season has decided itself.”
Broadwater added that in preparation for the matchup, the Bulldogs have been working on agility and mental toughness in practice.
Meanwhile, Brown men’s and women’s head coach Stuart LeGassick said his players are looking to capitalize on the home-court advantage as they take on two teams that have handed them a long string of defeats.
“If the Yale teams are perhaps suffering a little jet lag … we have a chance,” LeGassick said.
Talbott added that the Brown women’s team, specifically, has improved over the past year and will offer Yale a useful early-season test.
Scherl noted that Brown has added several newcomers to its roster during the off-season, giving the Bulldogs some uncertainty ahead of the matchup.
“The squash world is very small, so we have a ton of experience against almost all the players on all the teams,” said Scherl, who missed the season opener with a hamstring injury but hopes to return to the lineup on Tuesday. “Playing against lesser-known opponents can always be a challenge.”
Georgia Blatchford ’16 said the players will concentrate on the technical side of the game, attacking the ball before it bounces and putting length on their returns, in order to overcome their inexperience with the courts at Brown, which she said play differently than the courts at Yale’s Brady Squash Center.
The women’s match will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Kate Brodsky Squash Pavilion, followed by the men’s match at 6 p.m.