January 27, 2004

D'Mouth Drops Squash

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The men’s and women’s squash teams returned from New England after a grueling weekend of matches, ending up with a mixed bag of results but high praise from coach Scott Stoneburgh. The squads began the weekend with rousing successes at Amherst on Friday. The men swept the Amherst Jeffs 9-0 and the women toughed out a 5-4 triumph behind a gritty tie-breaker by junior Brooke Stetson.

The following day, the teams stopped by Dartmouth for what would prove to be a disappointing visit. The women fell 9-0 to the Green powerhouse, while the men were edged 5-4. Closing out what coach Stoneburgh called a “ridiculous” travel schedule, the Red hastened to Williams immediately following their matches in Hanover. The men took out the Ephs 9-0, while the women concluded the weekend with a 7-2 defeat.

For the women’s team, the victory at 10th ranked Amherst enabled the Red to move into the country’s top ten, a team goal since the beginning of the season. Though Dartmouth proved a predictably impenetrable force, sophomores Cory Warfield and Allison Laycob only fell by scores of 3-2, as the entire team pushed the Ivy force harder than ever before.

“We are definitely improving against Ivy League teams,” reported freshman Anna Beavis. “Yale told us when we last played them that we’re playing ten times better than we did at the Ivy scrimmages at the start of the season.”

Individual performances were recognized by both the coach and his athletes. Beavis singled out Brooke Stetson for pulling through against Amherst, while Stoneburgh commended freshman Caitlin Russell for her breakthrough weekend at the number one spot. Though matches were lost, Stoneburgh acknowledged that many of them went down to the wire, calling this evidence of a narrowing gap between Cornell and the nation’s elite programs. Beavis felt that the team must incorporate its underdog status into its mindset for the rest of the season.

“We need more positive aggression towards winning since a lot of our opponents are defending titles,” she said.

The men’s reach for a top-four ranking was cut short by several Dartmouth players who had what Stoneburgh called “the matches of their lifetimes.”

Senior Geoff Fong, who won his match 3-1, called the team defeat “heartbreaking,” and freshman Rohit Gupta, who went undefeated on the weekend and has moved from nine to six on the ladder, echoed the team-wide disappointment.

Stoneburgh sees room for improvement in his men over the next four weeks, hoping to build on what was learned in Australia over winter break. The trip, which sent the squad to Sydney and Melbourne for matches and allowed them to work with the Australian national coach, helped the Red “improve in leaps and bounds,” according to Stoneburgh. The coach will also continue both teams’ intense physical regimens, which include yoga, in preparation for a run at Nationals in March.

The men next face Franklin & Marshall in Ithaca on Feb. 14, and the women’s regular season concludes with a home match against William Smith the next day.

Archived article by Dan Schiff