Entering the 2018-2019 season, the Cornell men’s and women’s squash teams have a lot to look forward to.
With the men’s team coming off a 6-15 season marked by inconsistency and a 10-9 showing by the women’s team that ultimately lost momentum nearing the home stretch of the season, the teams will look to both veteran leadership and new young talent to take the next step.
The story of the men’s team this season will no doubt be following the addition of the new 2018 freshman class composed of Charles Culhane, Alex Dworetzky, Nicholas Göth Errington, Nikhil Arjunan Iyer, Thomas Mocorrea and Henry Robbins, as the men (currently ranked 16th overall) attempt to make another push toward the top of the national rankings.
For the women, the incoming recruiting class of freshmen Steph Tan, Tory Huchro and Lily Zelov will be an instrumental part of the team’s rebuilding efforts. With five seniors graduating this past summer, the team has now lost four of its top five players, and heads into a rebuilding period currently seeded eighth in the country.
Despite four losses for the program this past weekend, with the men falling 5-4 to No. 11 Virginia and 7-2 to No. 5 Columbia, as well as the women losing 6-3 in two close encounters with No. 13 Virginia and No. 7 Columbia, head coach David Palmer remains optimistic about the remainder of the season.
“I feel like the team is in a much better position this year to challenge and move up the rankings,” Palmer said of the men. “We can take comfort with the fact that we came very close to challenge very good teams. Two of our players lost 11-9 in the fifth, and overall I’m proud of the effort that both teams put in this weekend”.
Indeed, the men led the match, 4-3, before losing two close contests, 11-9, in the fifth to Virginia. With little rest the next day against Columbia, the Red again put up a good fight, ultimately falling in a lopsided contest to the Lions. Despite the loss, Palmer commended the team’s effort, praising freshman No. 2 Charles Culhane for his 11-8, 11-6, 11-5 win over Virginia’s No. 2 Toby Hansford.
With a smattering of recruits scheduled to arrive in the coming year, the women’s early struggles, while expected, have also been surprisingly encouraging.
“The girls have stepped up,” Palmer said. “It was a little bit frustrating because we had chances to close out the match [against Virginia] but we were ultimately unable to. Similarly with Columbia on Sunday, we had our chances early but we were unable to keep up the momentum through the contest.”
Praising the effort from the freshmen like Lily Zelov, who, at the No. 2 position, stepped up to beat Virginia’s Caroline Baldwin, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7, Palmer remained positive about his young team.
“Lily has shown really good potential as a freshman so far, and she’s had a really great start,” Palmer said.
Despite the losses, Palmer was also quick to mention the positive outlook for the women’s program.
“I have one big international recruit coming in from Malaysia in the spring,” he said. “She will no doubt be one of the strongest players in college squash, and she will certainly improve our team”
For the remainder of the season, the men will look to push closer into the top 10 in the nation, targeting the 10-12 range. Entering a rebuilding phase, the women’s team will attempt to replicate its top-8 national finish while still grooming its younger players to succeed in the future.