Squash continues strong play, dominates Williams

by Maddie Garcia | 11/29/09 11:00pm

In what is historically one of the most competitive non-conference contests of the Big Green's season, both the men's and women's squash teams notched victories over Williams College this weekend at the Berry Racquet Center. The men (8-3, 0-2 Ivy) fared similarly to last year, winning 7-2, while the women (7-3, 0-2 Ivy) avenged last season's 6-3 defeat to sweep the Ephs for their third consecutive 9-0 victory.

The Big Green women ensured that they would retain their spot in the top eight of the College Squash Association rankings with this weekend's win, beating Williams (6-7, 3-0 NESCAC) for the first time since 2008. Coming into the match, the Dartmouth women were ranked eighth and Williams trailed in ninth place.

The men have also been a fixture in the top eight this season, coming in at number seven in each of the CSA's four polls.

Head Coach Hansi Wiens said that the men's match went well, especially considering how tough Williams (6-7, 3-0 NESCAC) traditionally competes, though team players were confident that they could come out with a victory over the 11th-ranked Ephs.

"We were in better shape [than last year]," head coach Hansi Wiens said. "We played much better and had some great matches. We motivated each player to work as hard as they can."

Alex Kurth '13 demonstrated the Big Green's hard work mentality in his match at the number nine spot. After a tough start, dropping the first game to Williams sophomore Ryan Eagan, he came back to win the next three sets and take the match.

Co-captain Mike Lewis '11 said he was excited by the victory and felt that the team had prepared well for Saturday's matchup.

"We felt confident going into the match and we knew if we played our game that we should win," Lewis said. "We always play close with Williams and they have lots of tough guys. We played very well and proved we were the better team in the match."

Lewis credited Robbie Maycock '13 for setting the team's tone with a three-game sweep at the number six position. The rest of the men followed Maycock's example and played high caliber squash throughout the afternoon.

On the women's side, captain Hannah Conant '11 said she was pleased with the Big Green's combined team effort.

"We came out strong and were able to not drop a single match," Conant said. "Winning is very exciting as playing against Williams has always been really competitive for us. Corey Schafer ['13] confidently took her opponent in three games and Kate Nimmo ['14] also played really well."

Melina Turk '14 split the first four games at the number six position with Williams senior Kavitha Mannava, but was able to pull out a tough 11-8 victory in the deciding fifth game to preserve the sweep.

The men will begin a five-game road trip to upstate New York this weekend, playing Ivy League rival Cornell University on Saturday and the University of Rochester on Sunday. The women's team will also play Cornell on Saturday.

"The women beat Cornell for the fist time ever at the Ivy Scrimmages earlier this season," Wiens said. "These next few weeks will serve as a test to feel out how good we can play."

Lewis said he feels that the team is peaking at the right time in the season.

"We are really, really looking forward to going to Ithaca and taking on a tough Cornell team," Lewis said. "After that, we have Princeton [University], who are always incredibly good."

The women's schedule differs slightly from the men's team's over the next few weeks, but also includes a number of important matchups.

"In the next two weeks we have Princeton and Stanford [University], two of our biggest matches of the season," Conant said. "These will really test us, and, depending on what happens, help us to see where we stand in the rankings. If we can stay in the top eight, we will be in the top bracket at the end-of-season Howe Cup tournament."

The Howe Cup the championship tournament for collegiate women's squash will be at Princeton. Championship games start Feb. 18.