The No. 6 Yale women’s squash team hopes to build off its fourth-place finish at the Ivy scrimmages earlier this November as it travels to No. 9 Drexel this Friday to open the 2017–18 regular season.
The Bulldogs return this winter after a 2016–17 campaign in which they finished sixth overall at the College Squash Association Women’s Squash National Championships, capping off a 12–6 regular season. The team boasted two first-team All-American players last season — Jenny Scherl ’17 and Lucy Beecroft ’20 — the second of whom returns to the court this winter.
The Bulldogs’ performance three weeks ago in the two-day, preseason event fell short of last year’s third-place finish. After handily defeating No. 8 Cornell 8–1, the Elis fell to No. 1 Harvard 0–9. In a competition for third place, No. 2 Penn narrowly edged Yale 5–4, a score that demonstrated improvement by the Bulldogs given their 0–9 record against Penn in the 2016–17 regular season.
“It was a great showing for the beginning of the year, especially since we kept it close with a team that finished second nationally last year,” Anika Bhargava ’21 said. “Everyone on the team is super focused on improving and there’s a lot of strong competition within the team itself, so that should help us prepare better for matches and tournaments.”
Unable to play was captain Jen Davis ’18, who is recovering from a stress fracture. Still, she expressed approval for the team’s play at the scrimmages and said she looks forward to competing this season.
Yale will kick off its winter campaign on Friday when it heads to Philadelphia to take on the Dragons. The Elis are favored to win, given that they defeated Drexel 9–0 last January.
“The Drexel match will be especially exciting as their team has improved throughout the past few years,” said Emily Sherwood ’19, who won the team’s most improved player award last season. “It’ll be a great match.”
On Saturday, Yale will play No. 19 Franklin and Marshall in nearby Lancaster, Pennsylvania, an opponent it has enjoyed success against in the past. The team hopes to use the match to prepare its players, and especially first years, for future events against key rivals.
Three days later, on Tuesday, the Bulldogs will travel to Providence to compete against No. 11 Brown, marking its first Ivy match of the season. It will be the Elis’ last match until January, when the team will embark on a four-match road trip including conference rivals Penn and No. 4 Princeton. They will finally host their first match on Jan. 24, against No. 3 Trinity.
In February, the Bulldogs will host four more Ivies — No. 7 Columbia, Cornell, Harvard and finally No. 10 Dartmouth — before travelling to Cambridge to compete in the CSA Team Championships on Feb. 23.
The Elis’ schedule features key matches against the country’s top teams, including the five teams ranked above them in the Dunlop Women’s College Squash Rankings: Harvard, Penn, Trinity, Princeton and No. 5 Stanford. Several team members echoed their desire to join the top three this year, citing their intense preparation this fall as reason to hope for a strong season.
“Some goals for the season include beating Princeton, Penn and Stanford and finishing top three in the nation,” Davis said. “Our team is willing to put in the hard work and we will surprise a lot of people this year.”
In addition to Davis, seniors Ashley Suan ’18, Selena Maity ’18 and Jocelyn Lehman ’18 return for the Elis this season. Maity and Lehman led the Bulldogs with wins against Cornell in the Ivy Scrimmages earlier this month. The team also welcomes several first years, many of whom scored wins at the scrimmages as well, including Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’21 and Rita Mital ’21.
“We have five freshmen who bring new energy to the team and will contribute to our successful season,” Davis said. “We’re really excited to see what they accomplish.”
Yale will open play against Drexel at 4 p.m. in Philadelphia.
Alex Reedy | email@example.com