February 1, 2008

Squash Plays Last Home Matches

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Coming off of a couple of hard-fought victories last weekend, the men’s and women’s squash teams will host two new opponents tomorrow — St. Lawrence and Franklin and Marshall. With the matches based in Ithaca, the Red will take on St. Lawrence at 10 a.m. and finish the day against Franklin and Marshall at 3 p.m.
The men’s squad has its work cut out: St. Lawrence is coming to Ithaca with an 11-4 record with decisive wins last weekend over Colby and George Washington. Franklin and Marshall is also coming off of an impressive victory over No. 20 Hamilton on Jan. 27, sweeping it in a 9-0 blowout. The win brought Franklin and Marshall to 9-7 overall.
“This weekend is a big one, especially for the seniors,” said senior Alex Wolff. “It is our last home match of the season, and for us [seniors], our Cornell careers. As far as strategy goes, it is pretty much always the same: pound it down the rails, pin them in the back, and make them take two steps for every one we take. While these two teams may not be the strongest we play all year, they always show up, and we cannot take any opponent lightly. We know they will be fit and put up some good games, and these matches offer us a great opportunity to shore up our timing on the court and prepare our game for nationals in a couple of weeks.”
After a losing two-of-three last weekend, the men are trying to come back strong. The two losses came at the hands of Dartmouth and Williams after the squad had picked up a 9-0 victory over Amherst. To adapt and prepare for new challenges every weekend, the seniors are doing their best to inspire their fellow teammates and look ahead to a strong finish for the season.
“During my last year here, I am doing everything I can to instill the killer instinct in our freshmen,” says Wolff. “The college game is very different from the high school game: the pace is faster, the players are fitter, and the energy is higher. Our freshmen have adapted very well, but when they have someone down, they need to learn to ‘twist the knife’ if you will and put their opponent away. As a team, we hope to finish in the top-10 again. We have dropped some heartbreakers late in the season, but it is always promising when you can end on a high note.”
With strong performances from sophomore Chris Sachvie and freshman McKay Claghorn last weekend, the men are looking for some gutsy performances against St. Lawrence and Franklin and Marshall. Wolff explained that the intensity of competition can inspire some of his teammates.
“This weekend, I look for senior Mike Gelinas to pull down some big matches,” Wolff said. “Mike tends to goof around a lot and some might call him the team jester. But when the weekend rolls around, he gets this look in his eye that would make a puma whimper. I look for Mike to really put it all together and win some matches for us this weekend at his spot.”
For the women, the challenge will be living up to last weekend’s successes. The team swept Amherst, 9-0, and upset Williams, 5-4, before dropping its match to Dartmouth last Saturday.
St. Lawrence is coming into Ithaca with a 5-6 overall record, with their most recent wins over Connecticut College and against Franklin and Marshall, who had its first 12 games before recording a win last weekend.
“We’re all pretty confident going into this weekend,” said freshman Jennifer Gemmell. “I feel like we can definitely come out on top. Everyone’s playing really well right now, especially after our win against Williams last weekend.”
This will be the first time the women face St. Lawrence and Franklin and Marshall this season. Strategy wise, they do not plan to deviate from their normal style of play.
“We’re going in with the same strategy we always do,” Gemmell said. “We need to stay focused and play as hard as we can, just like what Coach Devoy always says.”
As the season comes to a close, the women are looking to end the season with a bang. Regardless of their position in the standings, they plan to win in whatever division they are placed.
“We’d love to get into the top-8. That would be our ultimate goal,” says Gemmell. “That is a great possibility, but even if we end up in the B Division, our goal will be to win it.”
With the help of a few key performances in past weeks, the women look to come together and win the remainder of the season. While a few players are crucial components to their success, it is ultimately a team effort that will drive them to the top.
“Since [junior] Alex Cornett has come back from her semester abroad, she’s done very well,” Gemmell said. “She won the deciding match last weekend against Williams, and she’s always very focused and a great team player. But I think everyone so far has done a great job.”