Steve Musco

Yale’s women’s squash team dominated its competition this past weekend, defeating both No. 12 Cornell and No. 7 Columbia on their home courts. The Elis took down the Lions in a 7–2 win on Saturday afternoon before continuing with a 8–1 defeat over the Big Red on Sunday.

“Columbia and Cornell were challenging opponents, especially on their home turfs, but everyone played their best game to close out key victories,” No. 4 Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’21 said. “The weekend was a great experience and we are very happy with the results.”

Four Bulldogs — No. 1 Lucy Beecroft ’20, No. 4 and captain Emily Sherwood ’19, No. 8 Nikita Joshi ’21 and No. 10 Ainsley Webber ’22 — won their matches against Columbia within just three games. No. 2 Helen Teegan ’21 and No. 7 Alexis Lazor ’21 played tight games to close out narrow victories and give the Elis seven wins on the day.

The match against Cornell ended in a similar fashion, with No. 3 Celine Yeap ’19, Bhattacharya, Sherwood and No. 6 Riya Mital ’21 sweeping their opponents. Both Teegan and No. 9 Jessica Yacobucci ’20 lost their first round but won the next three that followed.

Columbia was determined to defeat Yale. But the Bulldogs’ positive spirit helped carry them through the weekend, according to Sherwood.

“Knowing [Columbia’s mentality], the Yale women went in with the mindset of defending our ranking and proving our level to not only the Columbia team but ourselves as well,” Sherwood said.

The seniors have provided special motivation to the first years. Yeap and Sherwood were particularly on point in January, with Yeap dropping a single match and Sherwood losing only three out of eight total matches.

“Watching the older girls like Lucy and Celine play is motivating for all of us. The skill Lucy has to compete against top professional players like she did in Cornell is inspiring,” No. 11 Molly Tomlinson ’22 said. “The patience and control Celine shows in her games is a great example of the mental strength we should all try to reach.”

The future of women’s squash program is bright, especially considering the rapid improvement of a solid young core. Some of the team leaders such as Beecroft, Bhattacharya and Teegan will even be able to return next season to continue to assert their dominance.

At the top of the lineup, Beecroft found herself sharing the court with a first-year student from Malaysia, a former professional who was at one point ranked the 38th female squash player in the world. Yet she refused to back down from this daunting challenge against her opponent from Cornell, managing to steal a set even in defeat.

“Despite losing in four tight games, I was really happy with my performance,” Beecroft said. “I hope to carry that [momentum] through to our last two matches in season and then into national teams and individuals.”

However, the team will not be able to cruise into the playoffs due to the impending clash with perennial powerhouse Harvard. The third-ranked Crimson has continued its masterful ways again this season. In the last two years, the squad dropped just one individual match in all of its competitions.

Harvard, winner of 57 matches in a row, suffered its last loss in January 2015. The Crimson has yet to endure a single individual match loss in the 2018–19 season, winning 9–0 and sweeping all of its matches in the process.

“The team is excited to play No.1 Harvard on Friday and see if we can maybe throw a few surprises their way,” Beecroft said.

The Bulldogs take on Harvard this Friday in Cambridge before returning home to host Dartmouth on Sunday at the Brady Squash Center.

Reese Koppel | reese.koppel@yale.edu

Kelly Wei | kelly.wei@yale.edu