Cornell men’s and women’s squash open their seasons tomorrow at the Belkin International Squash Courts, with three consecutive days of matches.
During its 2008-2009 campaign, the men’s squad (13-5, 4-2 Ivy) shared second place with Yale in league standings and was ranked sixth nationally. This season, the Red will rely upon its top-50 veterans: senior Chris Sachvie and sophomores Will Hartigan and Thomas Spettigue. Sachvie, named second-team All-American, and junior Mckay Claghorn will divide the role of captaining the 15-player roster.
The women also have high hopes for the destiny of their program. Last year, the Red squad (10-6), led by head coach Julee DeVoy, also placed sixth in the country. Four of the nation’s top-50 players return to Cornell this season, including second-team All-America pick sophomore Shivangi Paranjpe, junior Jennifer Gemmell, senior Rebecca Hazzell and senior co-captain Liza Stokes. Sophomore Lauren Sachvie joins Stokes as a co-captain with intentions of taking the 14-woman squad to the next level.
Last weekend, both the Cornell men and women attended the annual Ivy League Scrimmages, where each of the Ancient Eight was represented in a tournament-style format. The series of matches played at Yale’s Brady Squash Center served as an indicator that the men prepared for its first official contests.
“We ended up finishing third---the same as last year,” said junior captain Mckay Claghorn, “We lost to Princton 7-2, and we didn’t do as well as we had hoped. We had a couple of guys out, so we were disappointed with that result. In that match we had four or five game loses, which was unfortunate. But then we went on to beat Dartmouth and Penn.”
The Red men will take on Western Ontario on Friday at 6 p.m., Penn on Saturday at 2 p.m., and it will end with Princeton on Sunday with a noon start.
“This is going to be a big weekend for us,” Cloghorn said. “We anticipate good competition from all three teams. We haven’t seen Western Ontario here, so that will be interesting. Having already seen Penn earlier in the scrimmages, we are confident to face them again. Sunday will be huge. The game versus Princeton, especially, will set the tone for the rest of the season. If all goes well, we will have a legitimate shot at an Ivy League Championship.”
Cornell squash has a promising future as a contender for an Ivy Title.
“The way it’s set up, we have a serious change to win the league, but we need to finish top 4 or top 3,” Claghorn figures. “If we beat Princeton, we have an opportunity to tie for first. If we beat Princeton and Yale, we would have the sole title, which would be the first time ever in our program’s history. Princeton has been dominating that title for years now so it would be huge to get a win from them this weekend. And then obviously we would have to come out strong against Yale. Like us, Yale and Rochester are young and deep, so we can’t afford to lose to anyone else. As a team, our goal is definitely to finish top 5.”
After the weekend’s matches, the Red women stand at the no. 5 position following a loss to Yale, 8-1, and wins over Columbia, 9-0, and Dartmouth, 6-3.
"We came in 6th last year, but we have room for improvement," said sophomore co-captain Lauren Sachvie, "These next couple days we hope to begin on a positive note and pull out some really good wins."
"Penn probably has the best recruiting pool this year," Sachvie said. "Already, they have done really well in the Ivy Scrimmages. They were tough last year and they will be even tougher this year.
It would be beneficial to get some unexpected wins against Princeton and (of course) Stanford, who are ranked above us. We came in fifth in the Ivy Scrimmages, so we are aiming to enhance our ranking. From looking at the other teams’ rosters, it is evident that it will be a toss-up. We need to pull out some wins at the bottom to remain in contention."
On a similar schedule to the men, the women also view this week as an opportunity to rest up and refuel for another busy weekend itinerary.
“We had matches all weekend," Sachvie said. "Which is why we had lighter practices this week and we are all concentrating on eating well, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep.”