Women’s squash 2nd in Kurtz Cup, men’s Hoehn Cup starts today

by Emily Wechsler | 2/19/15 6:01pm

The women’s squash team travelled to Harvard University to participate in the College Squash Association’s Women’s National Team Championships Feb. 13-15. Seeded at the top of the B Division and ninth overall, the team reached the finals for the Kurtz Cup, losing to Stanford University 6-3. Men’s squash has its first round of competition in the CSA Men’s National Team Championships today.

“It was a very exciting weekend,” head coach Hansi Wiens said. “We knew that we should be able to get to the finals, and we did a good job. The whole team played really well.”

Though the women were ranked in the top eight for much of the season, they fell to ninth at the end of the season, just missing the A Division and a chance at the Howe Cup. Instead, they were set to play Bates College, ultimately defeating them 6-3 in the first round. The women continued the success with a 7-2 victory over Williams College before facing Stanford. The Big Green had defeated all three teams earlier in the season with final scores of 7-2, 6-3 and 7-2, respectively.

“We were not very happy about [not being in the top eight], of course,” Wiens said. “We deserved to be up there, especially after beating Stanford and George Washington University, but there’s nothing we can do.”

Stanford took the win early, as Rebecca Brownell ’18 had the lone win in the first six games. Sarah Caughey ’15 and Zainab Molani ’18 secured two victories for the Big Green, both winning five-game matchups in the next round of play. Helena Darling ’15 was forced to retire early.

“On the final day, that was quite an interesting match-up,” Wiens said. “I think Stanford deserved to win on that day. They were stronger, but our team gave them a hard fight and tried everything to beat them. [They] did well, fought as well as they could and played well, but on that day Stanford was just better.”

The team echoed Wiens’ remarks on the match against Stanford.

“We definitely could have done better against them,” Lydie McKenzie ’16 said. “Last time we played them they didn’t have their number two, so they were better than last time we played them. But, maybe momentum just wasn’t great? Sometimes things just don’t go your way.”

Stanford’s win marks the first division title at the Women’s National Team Championships for the program.

A snowstorm also put a damper on Sunday’s squash activities. Several teams withdrew from the competition, leaving early to avoid being stranded in Boston. It also threw off the timing of Dartmouth’s match, as their 10:30 a.m. match was pushed to 2:30 p.m. and they were unable to reach the courts until half an hour before the match — a full hour later than usual.

Wiens cited all three finals match winners as standout performers for the weekend.

“Like the whole season shows, Zainab Molani and Rebecca Brownell had a very strong weekend again,” he said. “They won all their matches and played really hard, and had really outstanding performances this weekend and the whole season for freshmen.”

The season is now over for women’s squash, except for those players that are selected to compete at CSA Women’s Individual Championships at Princeton University Feb. 27 through Mar. 1.

“In the end it matters that we lost, of course we are not happy about it — we’re disappointed,” Wiens said. “But, looking back on the whole season, all our players, the whole team can be very proud of the season, the way they played and the way they represented Dartmouth and wore the green jersey. The way they were as a team was just exciting and fun.”

Men’s squash spent this week preparing for their championship tournament, the Hoehn Cup, which begins today at Trinity College with a match against the United States Naval Academy at 11:30 a.m. Dartmouth, seeded third in the B Division and 11th overall, beat Navy, seeded sixth in the B division and 14th overall, 5-4 in their season match Dec. 6.

The team changed little to prepare for the tournament, Wiens said, only moderating their practices so that they will be well rested and ready to take the court for three matches this weekend. They’re also spending some extra time “soloing,” or hitting on the court by themselves.

“We are a little unfortunate that we have our top player, Nick Harrington [’17], who can’t play because he has an injury, but we aren’t going to take that as an excuse not to win matches,” Wiens said. “We’re going to go out there and we’re going to try to win the tournament.”

If they win, the Big Green men are likely to face Cornell University in the semi-final. A win in that match would put them in the finals for the Hoehn Cup, likely against top-seeded Princeton, to whom the Big Green lost 3-6 earlier this season. While the Big Green defeated Cornell at their Feb. 1 matchup, it was a close match that ended in a score of 5-4. With such a tight margin between the two teams, their potential meeting in the Hoehn Cup could end with either team victorious.

Captain Mark Funk ’15 said he felt the Big Green should have beaten the Tigers when they last played and is confident the team will get to the finals to face them again.

“It’s three tough matches,” he said. “There’s no one that we’re overlooking at all, but I’m confident in our guys. We’ve had a tough last two weeks just training for this, and I’m very excited to see what happens this weekend.”

The men’s team has not defeated Princeton once in Funk’s time on the team, with the Tigers proving victorious over the Big Green since at least 2005.

“We look forward to this and we really want to win that match,” Weins said of the Dartmouth squad. “They’re all very hungry for this tournament, and they all want to show everyone that this was a great season. They played well and they want to finish that way.”

For the seniors, these could be their last college squash matches.

“It hasn’t really set in,” Funk said. “You think about every shot you hit. It would mean a lot [to win].”

Weins also said that this weekend’s tournament should be exciting across the divisions because as U.S. Squash has developed, “the teams are so much closer than they used to be.”