This coming weekend, the No. 5 Yale’s women’s squash team will be traveling to Trinity for team nationals, also known as the Howe Cup, where the Bulldogs take on No. 4 Stanford in the single-elimination quarterfinals to start the weekend.
The last time the Elis faced off against the Cardinals was a nail-biter. The Cardinals took advantage of an injury to No. 6 Riya Mital ’21 and won three five-game matches to prevail 7–2. According to Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’21, the team’s upcoming match is the perfect opportunity to clean the slate and redeem itself, hopefully en route to a national championship.
“This is what we’ve been training for, and we want to go out there and give it our all,” Bhattacharya said. “I think we are very capable of beating Stanford in our quarterfinals. That’s our immediate goal here. We really just want to play our best squash and try our hardest.”
The February loss in Palo Alto still stings. Despite the gorgeous views and decidedly better weather, the team returned to New Haven dejected, knowing things could have ended differently. This was a particularly difficult loss for coach Dave Talbott as well, since his brother Mark Talbott coaches the Stanford women’s squash program.
Still, while the team acknowledges the previous result, the Elis are trying their best to focus on the task at hand and are bringing an optimistic mindset with them to Trinity.
“We lost to them last month, but all our matches were very close and could have gone either way, so it is going to be challenging but we are all ready to give our best on court,” said Nikita Joshi ’21. “I think it is important for us to stay positive and give our 100 percent on court.”
Team captain and No. 4 player Emily Sherwood ’19 is looking to wrap-up a successful season in an optimal fashion. Sherwood’s final season has featured multiple individual successes. Of her seven wins this campaign, she swept her opponent in six of them — against Cornell, Columbia, UVA, George Washington, Tufts and Amherst.
Sherwood’s leadership has played a pivotal role this season. Both team members and coaches hailed the team’s camaraderie this winter under Sherwood’s leadership as captain.
“I think in order for the team to succeed, it is key to really leave it all on the court. Playing Stanford first round is a tough matchup, but all we can do is play our best and have confidence in our abilities,” said Sherwood.
Because building the team’s confidence is vital, assistant coach Lynn Leong emphasized the importance of coaches keeping the players from over-analyzing each match. On paper, the team is better than Stanford, and the Elis defeated them at last year’s nationals, so it is important the players stay calm throughout the games, Leong said.
Overall, the season has been successful for the Bulldogs, especially considering the departure of three seniors from the top nine positions last year. This year’s top nine are all upperclassmen.
“They’re more mentally focused, and they’re enjoying playing more, which I think is definitely translated into them playing well,” assistant coach Tim Lasusa said. “I think it’s a more cohesive team, and everyone’s working hard to get better.”
Leong stated that the goal this weekend will be to finish within the top three.
The Bulldogs are currently ranked fifth in the nation.
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