Although the CSA National Championships concluded the season for the Cornell men’s and women’s squash teams a few weeks ago, this past weekend was the official ending to the 2016-17 squash season.
From Friday March 3 to Sunday March 5, dozens of players from across the country came together at Dartmouth to compete in the CSA Individual Championships.
“I think everyone was pretty excited,” said head coach David Palmer. “Obviously it’s a different thing than playing for the team, and we took a smaller [group] so we only went with seven players … so it was a little bit of a different setup and feel, even for us … It was a little bit more personal and unique.”
Representing Cornell for the women were juniors Michèle Garceau, Margaux Losty, Emma Uible, Charlotte Knaggs and senior captain Rachel Scherman.
For Scherman, it was her fourth time attending the championships, and being a senior added to her experience while competing.
“It was definitely nostalgic because I’ve been going to individuals since my freshman year and exciting because of all the players there and a lot good squash happening,” she said. “My dad also flew out from San Diego to come watch me, so that was nice.”
She was the one squash player playing for Cornell in the Holleran West bracket, with a individual season record of 7-5 after spending the season in the No. 2 position in the lineup. She was able to skip the Round of 16 with a bye due to her national ranking of 27th but was knocked out in her first match by Princeton freshman Morgan Steelman, preventing her from competing further in the tournament.
“It was unfortunate the way that I played — I only had one match, which also was unfortunate; it was the way the draw was set up. I wasn’t really there mentally, and everyone who watched me could see that,” Scherman said.
However, Losty pulled out a big win for the Cornell squash program. After first beating freshman Luca Polgar from Bates College, the junior persevered against senior Alexandra Toth from Princeton. She secured all-American second-team honors by winning the Holleran North bracket of the tournament.
“She was really determined all weekend,” Palmer said of Lotsy. “It was actually a last-minute decision for her to enter and play, and obviously looking back now we’re very happy that she did, and … she really played really well, professional all week and she won some really good matches and she had a lot of good fight … and that’s what really got her through in the end.”
Competing alongside Losty were Knaggs and Uible, who attended nationals for the second and third time, respectively. They both fell to their first opponents, sophomore Kate Feeley from Princeton and freshman Jui Kalgutkar from Columbia, each in tight five -game matches. On the other hand, they both secured wins in their consolation matches.
Also playing for Cornell was Garceau, who had an 8-7 season individually while competing exclusively from the No. 1 position for Cornell. She was drawn into the Ramsay Cup for the weekend.
The last Cornell women’s squash player who competed in this bracket was four-time all-American Danielle Letourneau ’15, meaning that it’s been two years since the Red was represented in that group of the championships. She lost in the first round to Harvard freshman Gina Kennedy, creating an all-Cornell consolation final, but she won against Trinity College freshman Vanessa Raj in the consolation quarterfinals. She solidified her all-American status by claiming a spot in the Ramsay Cup with the win.
For the men’s team, the Red brought sophomore Andy Muran and senior captain Harry Freeman to the tournament.
Having tied for the most wins in the Cornell men’s lineup with nine victories, this was Muran’s first trip to individual championships, and he was placed in the Molloy South bracket.
His first victory came against Yale sophomore Jay Losty, and the momentum continued with another win versus sophomore Cody Cortes from Princeton. His championship run ended after a tight loss to junior Moustafa Bayoumy from St. Lawrence.
Freeman spent the season playing at the No. 1 position for the men’s team, posting a 8-11 record during the regular season. This earned him a spot in the Molloy East bracket, where he defeated MIT freshman Vedaant Kukadia and Penn junior James Watson. It was not until his last match that his career ended in the semifinals.
“I think probably out of all the players, Harry played very well, and he was very unlucky in that semifinal. He played a very strong guy [senior Affeeq Ismail] from Trinity,” Palmer said. “He was very unlucky; he had two match points, it was a long match. It was one of the best, I think probably the best match we’ve seen from him.”
Considering Cornell’s tough conference season against the rest of the Ivy League, the Red’s individual wins over other Ivy League players proves promising.
“Any win over a Penn or Princeton player or any Ivy is encouraging for us,” Palmer said. “I’ve kept learning from the captains, learning from the team now, seeing the team playoff weekend, seeing the individual playoff weekend — we’ve really got a really got a good idea now of the college set-up, of the squash system, and I think we took a lot away from it, and now we’re regrouping to plan obviously for next season.”
The Cornell squash program will resume next fall, but until then, the Red will be preparing to solidify its improvements this season and achieve even more success in the 2017-18 season.