Squash teams go undefeated against non-conference foes

by Vince Marriott | 11/23/09 11:00pm

by The Dartmouth and Zeke Turner / The Dartmouth

Both the men's and women's squash teams were undefeated this weekend, going a combined 4-0 while visiting Navy, George Washington University and Franklin & Marshall College. The women's team dominated the Diplomats on Sunday, winning 9-0.

"It's good to travel such a long way and win," head coach Hans Wiens said. "Otherwise, it's a long nine-hour ride back."

The Dartmouth women (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) did not lose a single game against Franklin & Marshall (0-1), as all nine members recorded 3-0 victories in their matches.

First-year players proved crucial to the women's success, with rookies providing four of Dartmouth's nine match wins. Freshmen make up four of the first six ladder positions on the team, including the top-three spots.

"In the past, we had strong [freshmen], but it's not normal for a whole cluster to be at the top," co-captain Libbey Brown '10 said. "All of them have an incredible work ethic and great attitudes."

The Big Green men's team (3-0, 0-0 Ivy) started its weekend with a 7-2 win over Navy (12-2) on Saturday. The Midshipmen provided more of a challenge than the score would indicate, however, as three of Dartmouth's victories required five games.

Dartmouth faced George Washington (4-2) later in the day, handily defeating the Colonials, 9-0.

On Sunday, the men's team accompanied the women to Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster, Pa., where it also found success over the Diplomats (0-1), winning 7-2. The Big Green controlled the contest from the outset, starting the day on a 5-0 streak.

"This weekend was a big test for us," Brian O'Toole '12 said. "Even with the trouble against Navy, we responded well and played well against Franklin & Marshall."

O'Toole went 3-0 on the weekend.

After twisting an ankle during a team scrimmage the previous Friday, team captain Michael Shrubb '10 was unable to fill his role as the No. 4 player this weekend. This gap in the ladder required the bottom five positions to play up a level and pushed Alex Kruth '13 into the No. 9 position.

Kruth won all three of his matches.

"We are so deep at the bottom of the ladder that it wasn't really an issue," Wiens said. "All of our kids are really doing well and are really fit. We were able to push through because we practice hard."

The wins will go a long way toward improving Dartmouth's national rank. The men, who currently sit at No. 9, below five other Ivy teams, hope to improve on last season's peak ranking of eighth, while the women occupy the No. 6 spot.

"Top six is very doable, but top five would be awesome," O'Toole said.

Both teams are looking ahead to their next opponent, perennial Ivy League champion Harvard. The women's team has never beaten the Crimson (2-0, 1-0 Ivy), Brown said.

"They probably have the strongest team in the country," Brown said. "It'll be tough."

The men's team never beaten Harvard (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) in regular season play, but it managed a 5-4 victory over the Crimson earlier in the year at the Ivy League scrimmages.

Both teams will face Harvard at home in the Berry Sports Center at 5 p.m. on Dec. 2.

After facing the Crimson, the men's and women's teams will prepare for their annual winter training trip. Typically, one of the teams goes abroad for the eight-day trip, but, this year, both teams will train in San Diego due to budget cuts.

"We have two practices a day and sessions to improve fitness. We work on technique much more," Wiens said. "It's good to just have a break sometimes to keep from getting bored."