March 5, 2007

Four Squashers Earn Mixed NISRA Results

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Four players participated for the Red in the year-ending NISRA individual squash tournament, with varying results.

Women’s freshman No. 5 Liza Stokes made a surprising run to the quarterfinals of her draw, while men’s senior No. 3 Rohit Gupta won three matches en route to the semifinals of his final tournament. Women’s sophomore No. 3 Alex Cornett and freshman No. 4 Rachel Wagner each won one match before falling in the second round of the 32-player tournament.

[img_assist|nid=21859|title=Stokes strokes.|desc=Stokes strokes. Cornell freshman Liza Stokes goes for the back hand shot against Tufts’ Stephanie Mars in the Red’s 7-0 win on Feb. 10.|link=none|align=left|width=73|height=100]

Stokes provided the most inspiring storyline of the weekend for the Red, upsetting junior No. 5 seed Rebecca Loucks of Dartmouth in the second round, 8-10, 9-4, 6-9, 9-4, 9-5. Stokes was forced to raise her game after falling behind 2-1, a quality she said is one of her strongest.

“My biggest strength is never giving up,” Stokes said. “I definitely do get tired and exhausted in the fifth game, but I never give up … that match just came down to determination; who was able to push it out at the end.”

Stokes used her height to cut the ball off early and run her opponent around the court, paying dividends late in the match. Her aggressive style of play was well-suited to the fast floors of Philadelphia’s Ringe Courts.

“I volleyed the ball a lot,” Stokes said. “ … I really don’t like to hit lobs or shots like that.”

She lost her quarterfinal match to senior No. 4 seed Kate Whipple of Williams College, getting overwhelmed in straight sets. Despite the loss, Stokes enjoyed the weekend by feeding off her teammates.

“It was only us three out there, and we were all very excited to be at the tournament,” Stokes said. “I was very motivated because of them.”

Meanwhile, Cornett lost a tight match in the second round, 8-10, 10-8, 9-5, 5-9, 9-0. Freshman No. 7 seed Jennifer Coxe of Williams proved too tough in the latter stages of the match, as Cornett ran out of steam after leveling the match at 2-2.

“She was just fitter than me,” Cornett said. “She ran me into the ground. Her fast-paced game and endurance were also suited to the courts, which are a little different from Cornell’s courts.”

The tournament was a disappointment for Cornett, who was hoping to reach the quarterfinals.

On the men’s side, captain Rohit Gupta advanced to the semifinals before bowing out to No. 7 seed Jeff Sawin of Navy, 3-1. Gupta felt that he could have played better.

“He took advantage of my weak points, and I didn’t do the same,” he said. “I won the third game and I thought that I had gotten into the match, but then I fell apart after I went up 3-0 in the fourth.”

Gupta also struggled in the quarterfinals, where he edged past Williams senior Tyler Kyle in five sets. He won his second round match, 3-1, and his opener, 3-0.

“I didn’t compete as well as I could have,” Gupta said. “The year didn’t end in a great way for me … it’s a bittersweet ending to my four years here, but I’m happy with my career.”