November 9, 2007

Squash Squads Aim to Top Last Season

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Add one more sport to the list of Cornell’s national powerhouse teams — squash.
Both the men’s and women’s squads finished last season ranked No. 9 in the nation, sending a total of four players to the College Squash Association National championships in Philadelphia last year — the sport’s equivalent of college basketball’s March Madness. Coming off anniversary seasons — the men’s team celebrated its 50th anniversary while the women celebrated their 10th — both teams will look to continue their waves of recent success.
The men’s team kicks off its season this weekend with a pair of Ivy League scrimmages in New Haven, Conn., before hosting its official opener against Penn and Western Ontario on Nov. 17. The game may be more than a week away, but the team is already more prepared than ever.
“The work ethic has changed,” said senior John McCarthy. “Already we’ve been training much harder in the preseason. … coach [Mark Devoy] has modified his whole training technique.”
Two players to keep an eye out for this season are sophomore Chris Sachvie, a top Canadian player who will return to varsity in the top slot, and freshman Will Hartigan, who placed third at Junior Nationals.
One of the team’s primary objectives for the season is to make it into the Potter Division. This is the college squash elite, consisting of the top-8 teams in the nation.
“We should make the top-8,” McCarthy said. “In all honesty, I think this year’s team is the most athletic team, the strongest-willed team, and the hardest working team we’ve had in four years.”
McCarthy also stresses the promise of the incoming freshmen class and the tight camaraderie of the players as two of the team’s main strengths in the upcoming season. Besides Penn and the University of Western Ontario, other notable home matches include Princeton on Nov. 18, and Franklin and Marshall on Feb. 2.
Women’s squash has seen results similar to their male counterparts, finishing last season with a solid 10-8 record and winning its division (the Kurtz Cup) to put the team in ninth place nationally as well. The home opener is also on Nov. 17, against Penn and Princeton.
Like the men, the women’s team will also benefit from the arrival of some talented freshmen — notably Jennifer Gemmell, who was a member of the Ontario Winter Games championship team and the Canadian National Junior Women’s team in 2006.
With the return of top-notch players like senior captain Mairin Barnes, junior Alex Cornett and sophomore Liza Stokes, the women’s team looks to and look to finish in the top-8 in the country.