About halfway into the 2016-17 campaign, the Cornell men’s and women’s squash teams are headed in decidedly different directions. The men have lost the last four times they have taken the court, while the women have been victorious in three of their last four contests.
This weekend, both squads will take on Franklin and Marshall on Friday night before heading to New York City to face Ivy League-rival Columbia the following morning. The women (5-2, 1-1 Ivy) will also play Stanford Saturday afternoon.
Program head coach David Palmer hopes his team can turn things around going into the weekend, building on successes from previous losses.
“Even though the men have not fared so well lately, they have played some of the best teams in the country,” Palmer said. “We have been giving ourselves good starts, but have had trouble closing out the matches.”
The group is led by senior Harry Freeman — who has won 60 percent of his matches — and sophomore Andy Muran who has played consistently well in the three-slot.
“After a tough three losses last weekend, we are looking to compete in every match we play against both Franklin and Marshall and Columbia,” Muran said. “We want everybody to go out and play their best and push our opponents all the way throughout their lineups.”
Last season, Cornell’s men (5-5, 1-1) easily defeated F&M 8-1, but the Red has not beaten Columbia since 2013. However Palmer feels that his team’s increased experience against Ivy opponents will pay off in the future.
“I think that every time the boys step on court and get some more experience under pressure, it will help us as we head into Ivy League play,” Palmer said.
After this weekend’s matches, the Red will face four consecutive Ivy League foes to finish out the regular season.
“Although we haven’t won all of our recent matches, we have played some really strong teams, and I think that will help us improve as we head into the busy part of our schedule,” Palmer said.
The women — who have come out of the gate strong — will look to continue their early season success with three more matches this weekend. Junior Margaux Losty hopes to continue her winning ways in each event.
“Coming off of wins in three of the last four matches, we are hoping to continue winning when we play Franklin and Marshall, Columbia and Stanford this weekend,” Losty said.
Freshman Lucy Martin and junior Charlotte Knaggs have both battled back from injuries, and Martin has earned a spot in the starting nine. Knaggs is once again in the fifth slot, rejoining the team’s already deep roster and giving Palmer a lineup he can be confident in day in and day out.
“We have been improving throughout the year, and getting a couple of players back from injuries dating back to last season has helped give our team a boost,” Palmer said.
A dominant lineup consisting of senior Rachel Scherman and juniors Michele Garceau, Margaux Losty and Emma Uible has led the team to its triumphant start. Up to this point, the group has won over 50 percent of its matches despite facing the opponent’s best players each time.
“What’s nice for me as a coach is that my top four players are a little bit ahead, but numbers five through 13 are very close, and the girls are going back-and-forth in challenge matches, and they are gaining confidence,” Palmer said.
Last year, the Red swept F&M 9-0 but lost to Columbia in a tight 5-4 defeat. After topping Stanford 9-0 two seasons ago, the Cardinal rebounded and managed to get the best of Cornell in 2016, downing the Red 6-3.
“We have been physically working hard this week, and it is going to be a busy weekend for the women’s team,” Palmer said. “But I am optimistic that we are capable of winning all three of our matches.”