Both the nationally ranked men’s and women’s squash teams have completed the heart of their seasons and entered the final stretch last Saturday at Bowdoin College. Each squad faced the host and Bates College in their second to last weekends of action before National Championships.
Bates and Bowdoin boast young men’s squash programs eager to gain recognition in the east. They invited the Red in an effort to bring nationally ranked competition to their squads.
After arriving in Brunswick, Maine, close to midnight Friday, the squashers had little time to rest before the scheduled matches.
“Oh my God, we were exhausted,” senior co-captian Rajat Khanna exclaimed. “It took us a game each to get into the match.”
The score did not reflect the tiredness Khanna professes. The men jumped out to win their first contest against Bates, 9-0.
Bowdoin is considered to be a better team than Bates, and the Red ran into more trouble in the later match. Still, Cornell beat Bowdoin easily, 7-2.
First-seeded Khanna won all but one of his games defeating Bowdoin’s Wasis Khan, 3-1 and Bates’ Sean Doherty, 3-0.
The heart of the team, No. 2 through 5, comprised of sophomores Tim Nagel, Neal Soo, Kenny Greer and co-captain Jeff Porter only dropped one match.
“We didn’t have much pressure [going into the contest],” Khanna admitted. “This [competition] gives a chance for the young players to dominate [the opposition].”
The women had more of a challenge going into Brunswick. While Bates has a short squash tradition, Bowdoin had captured decisive victories including one over Dartmouth, 5-4. Cornell had also beaten the Green earlier in the season by the same score.
The women took the first match against Bates, 9-0. Bowdoin did not roll over as easily as Cornell won 5-4. Yet, in the five wins, Cornell only lost one game.
“We went in knowing that Bowdoin was pumped to play us and we were expecting a good fight,” senior captain Kate Lytle said. Lytle, ranked forth on Cornell’s roster defeated both of her challengers.
No. 1 on the Red, junior Olga Puigdemont-Sola, a mainstay for Cornell all season, won her match, as did No. 3 junior Andrea McNeely, No. 5 junior Melinda Lee and No. 6 senior Megan Shwartz. The women’s team is now unofficially ranked No. 5 in the country, heading into the last match of the season against higher-ranked Trinity.
“I think that these two wins were necessary to establish our place in the grand scheme of [women’s squash] and make our presence known,” Lytle said.
The sweep over the weekend is helpful for both teams as the National Championships come in two weeks for the women and three for the men.
“It’s really shoulder’s up from here,” Khanna said on the remainder of his season, which concludes against Rochester and Hobart in two weeks, before the run at Nationals.
“We’re really big on the confidence level,” he added.
Lytle echoed the sentiment.
“You have to have the mentality to win, and this year we’ve had that,” she said.
Archived article by Amanda Angel