Despite the challenge of playing three or more matches each in a period only slightly longer than 24 hours, the Yale men and women’s squash teams dominated their competition this weekend.
The No. 6 women (10–1, 3–0 Ivy) topped No. 4 Stanford by a decisive 7–2 margin in the weekend’s closest match, and then recorded three consecutive 9–0 sweeps against No. 13 George Washington, No. 15 Middlebury and No. 11 Williams. The No. 4 men (8–2, 3–0 Ivy) made easy work of No. 13 George Washington, No. 14 Navy and No. 18 Williams to complete a perfect weekend in which the two Eli teams combined to drop just four of 63 individual matches.
“I thought playing four matches in 24 hours was already an achievement, and to come off with four very decisive wins is definitely amazing,” women’s No. 2 Celine Yeap ’19 said.
The most challenging opponent this weekend for either team was the Stanford women, who had beaten No. 5 Trinity 5–4 in November. Trinity recently topped Yale 8–1 for the team’s first loss of the year, causing the Bulldogs to drop below the Cardinal in the latest ranking. Yale came out to make a statement, and did just that with many hotly contested matches.
Both Yale losses against Stanford went beyond three games, as No. 7 Selena Maity ’18 fell in a close five-game match that featured two games beyond the regulation 11 points, while No. 6 Jen Davis ’18 lost in four games.
No. 1 Jenny Scherl ’17 and No. 9 Emily Sherwood ’19 won their matches by single-game margins, with Sherwood’s being perhaps the most exciting contest in the Yale win. After finding herself on the wrong side of a 2–0 deficit, Sherwood went on the offensive to collect a purposeful 11–3 victory in the third. Riding the momentum, Sherwood was able to edge out her opponent 14–12 and 11–9 in the fourth and fifth games respectively.
Head coach Dave Talbott noted that the match was closer than the 7–2 score indicates and could have gone either way. Of the 34 individual games played, 15 saw the losing player record at least nine points. Talbott added that the women gained confidence from the win, which propelled the team on the rest of the weekend.
“The women’s win against Stanford was convincing and gave us a chance to reload after our loss against Trinity,” associate head coach Pam Saunders said. “It was a big confidence boost going into Princeton [next weekend] and it was good to see that we learned from our mistakes against Trinity. With every match we play, we mature and we have the philosophy that every match is a chance to work on something in our games.”
The Bulldogs then cruised to victory over George Washington, Middlebury and Williams, whose players were only able to pry games from the Elis in three, one and two of the nine individuals matches, respectively.
The Yale men wiped out George Washington, Navy and Williams with telling 8–1, 9–0, and 8–1 scores, respectively, in matches that the Bulldogs had full expectations of winning.
The matches allowed the team to recover after two consecutive losses to Rochester and Trinity last weekend, and gave players that typically do not play in the top 10 opportunities to gain valuable experience.
“The men are [focusing on] Princeton and Penn,” who the Bulldogs will play on the road next weekend, said Talbott. “The matches this weekend were a chance to work against three solid teams who could all make the men work at a level that was very constructive. Although we only lost a match or two over the weekend, it was very valuable. It also gave some of our lower players a chance to develop.”
The men’s goal all season has been to win the Ivy title, and as the only undefeated team in the League, the Bulldogs are now in strong position to do so. Next weekend the men will travel south to play No. 11 Princeton on Saturday and No. 2 Penn the following day.
Facing tougher Ivy opposition, the women’s goal is to finish in the top three both in the League and in the nation, Talbott said. The women will travel with the men to face-off against No. 3 Princeton and No. 2 Penn for what will likely be the most challenging weekend of their season.
The women open play at Princeton this coming Saturday at 12 p.m., and the men follow shortly after at 2:30 p.m.