Squash teams turn to postseason after weekend wins at Brown

by Ethan Strauss | 2/10/20 2:20am

2-10-20-squash-lorraineliu

The squash teams lost at home to Yale on Friday but both earned victories against Brown on Sunday.

by Lorraine Liu / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

The Dartmouth men’s and women’s squash teams, both ranked No. 9 in the nation, wrapped up their regular seasons this weekend and will be competing in the postseason at the end of the month. The men’s team, after a 7-2 loss at home against Yale University on Friday, stormed back against Brown University to earn a 6-3 win on Sunday. The No. 9 women’s team also lost to Yale on Friday 8-1, but came back two days later to beat Brown, 5-4.

The men’s team started the season with the goal play in the top division of the College Squash Association championship tournament. To make this division, the team would need to be ranked within the top eight teams in the country at the close of the season. With an increased level of Ivy League competition over the past few years, this goal has been a challenge.

Head coach Hansi Wiens attributed much of this increased play level to an improvement of teams’ training regiments across the league. The Big Green has followed this trend by working with the Dartmouth Peak Performance program and taking a training trip down to Atlanta during the off-season. The Atlanta trip also allowed the team to bond together as a cohesive unit.

“Training, practice and fitness levels have all gone up,” Wiens said. “Team bonding activities are the most important, we need to fight not only for ourselves but for the whole team.” 

The team started its season with a record of 2-4 before playing then No. 5 Drexel University at home. After Drexel picked up wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, the Big Green won six of the last seven matches to secure the win at home. The day was highlighted by a number of close matches, including a five-game victory by Tucker Martino ’22.

“We knew that we had to beat either Drexel or Columbia, we had a good day and played well together,” Wiens said. “Things had to come together, and we had to be in the right mindset to play that day.”

Most of the team’s close wins this season came as a result of its depth, with some matches coming down to wins at the lower half of the ladder. Jack Bell ’22 and Lucan White ’23 often brought in important wins at the lower two spots of the roster. 

Our strength is that we are very deep and strong from top to bottom,” Wiens said. “Most of our wins are at the bottom of the roster.”

Seniors Brandon De Otaduy Nam ’20 and Drew Monroe ’20 will be missed by the program next year, but the team itself has a bright future ahead with plenty of underclassmen talent. 

“Everyone on the team has done such a great job of making everyone included,” De Otaduy Nam said. “It’s definitely been my favorite part of my time at Dartmouth.”

Despite picking up two more victories against St. Lawrence University and Cornell University, the team finished 6-7 on the season and will likely play in the B division of the CSA championships as the top seed.

The women’s team also sought to make it to the top bracket of the CSA championships this postseason, and to do so, the team needed to have at least one upset win during the season with a schedule filled with some of the best players in the world.

“This is one of the strongest teams we’ve had in my four years here.” said captain Annie Blasberg ’20. “We really wanted to break into the top eight and that meant beating some teams ranked above us.”

That upset win finally came in Hanover against No. 6 Drexel University on Jan. 24. The Big Green kept it close throughout the first eight matches, with three of its initial four victories coming in four games or more. Drexel picked up wins at the first, second and fourth spots, but at the end it came down to Julia Potter ’20 at the ninth spot in the lineup. Potter clinched the upset after taking the match in four games. 

“It was a huge effort from everyone across the ladder,” Blasberg said. “The big crowd at home and the atmosphere and energy made it a big win.” 

Freshman players made a huge impact on the team’s performance this year, filling out high spots in the roster. Emma Supattapone ’23, Jesse Brownell ’23 and Claire Aube ’23 filled out the second, third and fifth spots in the lineup respectively. The strength of the class bodes well for the future of the program.

“The freshman class is exceptional to me,” Wiens said. “I really look forward to working with them over the next few years.”

But for seniors Blasberg, Potter and Junnat Anwar ’20, it will be a bittersweet goodbye to a program that has benefited so much from their commitment and persistence.

“It’s been a great run, and I wish them all the best,” Wiens said. “I look forward to seeing what they do out there in the world in the future.”

With other key wins coming over George Washington University and Cornell, the Big Green finished the season with a record of 6-6.