Courtesy of Sam Rubin

The Yale women’s squash team faced a devastating end to their last season at the hands of perennial rival Harvard in the semifinals of the College Women’s National Team Championships. But now, with their top four players returning this season, the team is ready to look to the future.

In 2017–18, the team finished fourth in the nation and third in the Ivy League behind Harvard and Princeton, respectively.

This past weekend, the women’s squash team competed in the Ivy League scrimmage, an annual season primer, where it defeated Penn 7–2 and finished third overall. This year’s squad consists of two seniors, captain Emily Sherwood ’19 and Celine Yeap ’19, as well as a trio of rookies — Molly Tomlinson ’22, Ainsley Weber ’22 and Avery Westerfield ’22.

“[We’re] excited for the season,” Tomlinson said. “We should do well [in our first event] against Drexel. It should be a good warm-up match for the team. We won’t take it lightly, but we hope to do well. The team is at a strong position at the minute. It’s improved a lot since the start of the year.”

Though three of the team’s top nine women will be graduating in the spring, the coaches believe that this upcoming season will be another memorable one for the Elis. Assistant coach Lynn Leong hopes that the team will either retain or improve its fourth-place standing from last year.

“We’ve worked really hard in using what we have this season to get our women ready, and a lot of them have performed and shown good results based on this weekend’s scrimmages,” Leong said. “That just gives us a good benchmark on how to start and how we’ll perform for this season.”

According to Leong the core of the team is still intact. The beginning of the season has featured strong showings. Furthermore, the young core has matured since last season. Last year’s rookies are now sophomores and bring back the experience of last season to guide them heading into the 2018–19 slate.

Assistant coach Tim Lasusa noted that this year’s team is much more focused. Lasusa said that the current Bulldog squad recognizes the need to work harder and is rising up to that challenge in the preseason.

Head coach Dave Talbott also has an optimistic outlook about the upcoming season, noting that the team is fitter and physically stronger than ever before. Yale modified its strength and conditioning program and training schedule for this season, which has already been paying dividends.

Talbott acknowledged the talent of other teams such as Harvard but hopes to bring an undefeated record into his team’s match versus the Crimson. Last year, Harvard only lost one individual game within a match.

“It’s a fine line,” Talbott said. “We’ve got to move up a notch or two, which is not easy. Our goal right now is to keep improving. If we can improve as much between now and January as we have now, then we [have] got a shot.”

Despite these challenges, Talbott is excited about the upcoming season. He noted that the team’s positive showing at the Ivy scrimmages is reflective of the past months of hard training. Even with only 13 members, Talbott praised the team’s cohesiveness.

When asked about the first years, the coaches commended their attitudes. This season’s squad of rookies compliments the team dynamic by adding depth to raise the game of upperclassmen. With the addition of the three first years, the team is now more cohesive than ever, Talbott said. Yale aims to improve and show up to each practice with an attitude of “what can we do to make us better,” according to Leong.

“They really do push the other players, and they push their teammates to work harder, and for a class that’s not the most talented, that’s what you really want,” Lasusa said. “They have potential to be impact players. It may take some time, but if they stick with it they can do it.”

The Bulldogs’ first match will take place on Nov. 30 against Drexel at the Brady Squash Center.

Reese Koppel | reese.koppel@yale.edu

Kelly Wei | kelly.wei@yale.edu .