January 21, 2008

Squashers Face Tough Matches Over Break

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During Winter Break, the men’s and women’s squash teams focused their energy on new opponents: Bates and Yale. While the men (2-5, 1-3 Ivy) dropped both matches, 5-4 at Bates and 8-1 at Yale, the women split their matches, with a 9-0 win over Bates and a 9-0 loss at Yale.
“Our goal for the year is to finish in the top-8,” said men’s squash head coach Mark Devoy. “We started the year at No. 9, and we are currently in No. 7 but need to maintain this for the remainder of the season. Our biggest matches are to come: the season started well with a 5-4 win over Penn [first since 2000] and a 5-4 loss to Harvard, [the] first time we got that close.”
With losses to Western Ontario (2-7), Princeton (0-9) and Harvard (4-5) in late November and early December, the men hoped to go into No. 12 Bates on Friday fresh, having their last match on Dec. 1. Learning from a hard-fought match at Harvard, the men wanted to capitalize on what they learned. After a close battle, the men lost to Bates on Friday, 4-5.
“The [most memorable] match thus far was the No. 7 seed’s [match] against Harvard,” Devoy said. “The deciding match, which we lost 9-5 in the fifth game, it was still a great match, and it’s what collegiate squash is all about.”
After the defeat at Bates, the men fell to Yale, 8-1, in a Saturday afternoon match on the road. Sophomore Steve Peever and senior Mike Gelinas managed to win both of their first games before being swept in their respective matches, 3-1. For the rest of the season, the men look toward how they can grow and improve their play.
“There are no real standouts,” Devoy said. “I have a young team with mainly sophomores and freshmen, and that is evolving into a tight unit which is going to be fun to work with over the next few years.”
The women, on the other hand, started the season 1-3 but have improved their record to 3-4 in recent play. During a trip to Mexico over winter break, the women defeated Wesleyan. This past weekend, they split their matches with a 9-0 victory at Bates and 0-9 loss at Yale.
“The Ivy League matches we played earlier this season were tough, given they are the top teams in the nation,” said senior Mairin Barnes. “However, our team has been aggressively working on both our squash and our fitness over the winter session and during our team trip to Mexico. We feel confident that we will match up very competitively with the remaining teams this season.”
The women traveled to Bates on Friday and won decisively in a 9-0 shutout. Because of new and returning talent on the team this year, the Red women are optimistic about their position and opportunity in the conference for the future.
“One of our main goals for this season was to beat our closest competitors from last season and take on those slightly above us in the rankings, including rivals Bates, Brown, Williams and Dartmouth,” Barnes said. “So far, we have accomplished our goal of Bates, winning all nine matches. Given the depth of our team this year thanks to the new freshman, No. 1 seed Jennifer Gemmell and No. 7 Izzy Spyrou, and the return of junior Alex Cornett who was abroad last semester, we are ready for a close match with Brown on Sunday, as well as Dartmouth and Williams next weekend.”
After the victory at Bates, the women traveled to Yale and lost in an 8-1 defeat on Saturday afternoon. Juniors Cornett and Alix Watson won their first games, but later both lost their matches, 3-1. With their sights set towards Brown on Sunday afternoon, the women will put their training over the break to the test in more tough matches.
“It was very rewarding to defeat Bates this past weekend, and our biggest challenge will occur this Sunday with Brown and next weekend with Williams and Dartmouth,” Barnes said. “These three matches will be a true test of our strength and improvement as well as a chance to break into the top-8 in the nation.”