December 2, 2008

Squash Features Young Talent

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With several key underclassmen to bolster the men’s and women’s squash teams, both squads are looking to vault into the nation’s top level of competition this year after solid performances last season.
The men’s squash team opened up its fall season on a high note, winning four of its first five matches — including three Ivy victories — exciting the squad about its chances for the season. Next week marks the Red’s first home match, where it will face Harvard, whom Cornell narrowly beat 5-4 on Nov. 8 — a win that marked the first time in team history that Cornell had defeated Harvard.
The Red will approach this year hungry, returning four juniors and four sophomores intent on reaching the elite division of collegiate squash this year — the top-8 teams — after narrowly missing that goal last year.
“We definitely want to make it to the top-8,” said sophomore co-captain Mckay Claghorn, “but even go higher than that. Right now we’re ranked 6th, so we want to finish at least that high.”
Some teams that will challenge Cornell include Western Ontario and Yale, then top-ranked Trinity in early February. Arguably the most difficult part of the season will be maintaining a ranking as high as in the preseason, but the team has high aspirations.
“The team is much younger, which is good for us. … We’re so deep that it’s a good asset,” Claghorn said. “This season we’ll definitely get better.”
The women’s squash team also has lofty goals for this year, after starting the season 3-3. The roster features more veteran players than on the men’s side, but has also benefited from the acquisition of new talent.
“We have drastically improved since last year,” said junior captain Liza Stokes. “The new players have really strengthened the ladder, and the competition that they bring to practice makes it more efficient and competitive. We’re all benefiting from the new talent.”
Three of the five newcomers — Rebecca Hazell, a junior transfer student out of Queen’s University in Canada, freshman Shivangi Paranjpe and freshman Lauren Sachvie, the sister of top-seeded junior co-captain Chris Sachvie on the men’s side — are all playing in the top-5.
The ultimate goal for this team is to also make it in the top-6 or top-7 rankings nationally.
“We competed last year pretty closely with Brown, Williams and Dartmouth, all of which I think we should beat this year,” Stokes said.
The squad will also look to remain more competitive with top-ranked schools like Penn and Princeton, whom the Red most recently lost to by narrower margins than in years past.