March 8, 2010

Squash Teams End 2009-10 Campaign at Individual Championships

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This weekend marked the final matches of the 2009-10 squash season as 10 Cornellians traveled to the Kellner Squash Center at Trinity College for the Individual Championships. Men’s head coach Mark DeVoy accompanied senior Chris Sachvie, sophomore Alex Domenick and freshmen Arjun Gupta and Rishi Jalan to the tournament. Under women’s coach Julee DeVoy, Cornell sent seniors Becka Hazell, Liza Stokes and Rachel Wagner, junior Jen Gemmell, sophomore Shivangi Paranjpe and freshman Jaime Laird.

Coach Mark DeVoy explained that the men’s team was somewhat disappointed with its results this weekend. Several of them had very difficult draws with matches against players ranked significantly higher than they were. However, DeVoy said that overall, it was a good finish to the season.

Although they “didn’t quite clinch” some of their matches, all four finished in the top 50 out of the 116 players in the tournament. Jalan finished between 44-48, Gupta between 37-40 and Domenick between 21-24. Sachvie placed between 13-16, and according to DeVoy, this should qualify him to earn Second-Team All-American status (which will be announced within several days).

Throughout the tournament, several of the matches were extremely close five-setters, many of which Cornell started with the lead. DeVoy attributed these tough losses to a lack of experience, especially in the case of the freshmen.

“I think there was a bit of a maturity factor going on for our freshmen,” DeVoy said. “They were playing seniors in some cases, which is a tough situation, but it was a good introduction for them. They have three more years, and we’re looking for good things from them.”

Jalan agreed. In his second match, Jalan lost to Yale’s Robby Berner (who happens to be Cornell player Clare Berner’s older brother). Jalan started off the match with a 1-0 lead and fell in four sets by a final score of 3-1.

“I smoked him in the first game,” Jalan said, “but he took me down because of his experience.”

In the women’s draw, Hazell, Paranjpe and Laird played in the A-draw (Ramsay Division), while Gemell, Wagner and Stokes played in the B-draw (Holleran Division). Julee DeVoy said that like the men, some of the women were similarly disappointed with their results. Despite the disappointment, there were some highlights.

Hazell played Harvard freshman Laura Gemmell (Cornell player Jen Gemmell’s younger sister), who was seeded first and went on to win the entire tournament. Hazell lost to Gemmell in the first round, but not without a fight. The four-set match was very close and Hazell was the first person to win a game off of Laura Gemmell all season.

DeVoy also underlined freshman Laird’s performance. In her first match, Laird was up, 2-0, to Dartmouth’s No. 1, Valeria Wiens, but lost in five sets.

“Even though she lost, Jaime played exceptionally well,” DeVoy said. “It was excellent squash, and she should be pleased.”

Laird won her first round consolation match and then went up against Williams’ Jen Coxe, whom she lost to last weekend at the team championships. Laird was out for redemption and beat Coxe in five sets. Laird lost to Princeton’s No. 3 player, Julie Cerullo, in the consolation semi-finals.

Also giving a notable performance this weekend was co-captain Stokes. Stokes won her first three matches, but lost in the quarterfinals to Penn’s Annie Madiera.

“She should be very happy with her performance,” DeVoy said. “She has been to championships every year and this is the best she has done. It was a great way to end her college squash career.”

Stokes was pleased with her performance as well, saying that she had played Madiera many times before and they go back and forth constantly. “A lot of the time it just comes down to whose day it is, and Saturday was her day. But I was definitely happy with the way I played.”

Both DeVoys and their players said that overall they thought that the 2009-10 season was very successful and that the team combines a unique balance of skill, teamwork and support for one another.

“Both the men and women are a great bunch of athletes who work well together on and off the court,” Julee DeVoy said. “They work extremely hard and love their sport, and they make it a pleasure to work with them.”

Stokes agreed.

“This year the teams were closer and more cohesive than they have ever been and that really contributed to such a great season.”

Original Author: Katie Schubauer