Courtesy of Yale Athletics

The women’s and men’s squash teams will begin their seasons Saturday against the University of Virginia with new head coach Lynn Leong at the helm. 

Squash has been played at Yale since 1920, with the varsity program claiming 13 national titles since 1942. This year, the men’s team and women’s team head into their seasons respectively ranked fifth and eighth nationally. Following the retirement of longtime leader Dave Talbott in January, Lynn Leong is set to lead the Bulldogs into her first matchup as head coach. 

“Squash is often described as physical chess; it is a game of endurance, skill, and strategy,” Leong wrote to the News in an email.

This season’s goal, according to Leong, is “to vie for Ivy supremacy.” Still, she added that the teams have larger aspirations which include reaching the national championships. 

Both the men’s and women’s will begin their seasons against a strong UVA opponent on Nov. 13 at home in the Brady Squash Center. The Cavaliers’ men’s team and women’s teams are ranked seventh and ninth, respectively. According to Leong, UVA is a “rising star” in college squash and has a “talented team currently ranked ahead of Yale.” The teams are excited about the match and looking to pull off an upset at home, she said. 

Heading into her first collegiate season, Lindsay Westerfield ’25 feels very welcomed on the team and is “very excited” to play her first game against UVA after last week’s preseason scrimmages. 

Jed Burde ’24 shares a similar sentiment, crediting the teams’ readiness for the meet against UVA to the “hardwork and guidance” of his coaches and athletic trainer, Trevor Thompson. 

“With more than half of our roster not having more than one year of college athletic experience, there will be a lot of new emotions before and during matches,” Burde said. 

According to Burde, the first years and sophomores are “extremely mature” and will be able to transform their nerves and energy into success this season. 

Both Burde and Leong emphasized that team effort and cooperation are crucial to success against other teams. “Efforts from individual team members are combined to forge wins in squash matches, and everyone on the varsity ladder contributes equally to the team’s success,” Leong said.

Leong also characterized her team’s dedication as “infectious” as her squads are “eager and hungry to compete” while also trying to be “the best version of themselves on and off the courts.” 

One of the team’s greatest competitors this season in the Ivy League remains 42-time national championship winner Harvard. Still, according to Leong, “Perennial powerhouse Trinity College and upstart teams like UVA and Drexel will also be highly competitive this year.”

According to Leong, seeing members of her team grow, mature and succeed at Yale and beyond brings her “the most joy and satisfaction.”

Harrison Gill ’22 and Aishwarya Bhattacharya ’21 SPH ’22 will captain the men’s and women’s squads, respectively. 

Paloma Vigil is the Arts Editor for the Yale Daily News. She previously served as a DEI co-chair and staff reporter for the University and Sports desks. Past coverage includes religious life, Yale College Council, sailing and gymnastics. Originally from Miami, she is a junior in Pauli Murray College majoring in Psychology and Political Science.