Squash Teams Play Host to Tough Opponents

By Stephen Etna

In their first competitive play in the new squash facility, on Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8, the Middlebury men’s and women’s squash teams played host to a number of top-ranked teams.

In a weekend matchup featuring Colby, Bowdoin and St. Lawrence, the Lady Panthers rose to the occasion, going undefeated while the men’s team split its results for the weekend. The women’s team started off the new year with a 9-0 trouncing of Mount Holyoke on Saturday, Jan. 11. The Panthers then continued with a strong showing against Amherst, with both the men and women securing  8-1 wins over the Lord Jeffs.

Starting off by facing off against Colby, Middlebury showed its depth, coasting to an easy 9-0 victory. Starting the match off with easy straight set wins from Abby Jenkins ’14, Annie Wymard ’15 and Tiffany Hau ’16 at the top three slots, the team never let up, with every member of the Middlebury team winning in convincing fashion.

Of particular note was the play of Zoe Carey ’16, who not only won convincingly, but was in complete control of her opponent, Liz Brehman of Colby. Carey ceded only nine points to her opponent throughout the entirety of the match, including a second game in which she blanked Brehman en route to victory.

Later that afternoon, Middlebury played host to Bowdoin, and won in similarly convincing fashion. The Panthers opened up play with six consecutive wins through the top slots, before seeing Audrey Ellen ’17 and Isabel van der Linden ’17 lose very tightly contested games at the seven and eight slots. Middlebury would then rebound with a win in the ninth slot by Grace Backe ’15.5.

The next day, however, provided the true test to the women’s squash team. Facing the historically strong squash program of St. Lawrence, the match truly went down to the wire.

However, perhaps in a testament to the overall strength of the women’s team, rare losses dealt to Jenkins and Hau were overcome by decisive victories in the lower slots. The Panthers fourth, fifth, and sixth slots put on quite the show, with a dominant victory from Saskia Pownall-Gray ’16, including a third game in which she didn’t allow one point. With the game tied up following a victory from Amanda Chen ’14, Ellen came up clutch in a massive fashion, winning her game and getting the fifth and decisive victory in Middlebury’s 5-4 victory over the Saints.

Following the strong performance against three quality opponents before the winter break, the women’s squash team has kept up its excellent play as of late, recently recording a 9-0 trouncing of Mount Holyoke.

The men also played host to Colby, Bowdoin and St. Lawrence before winter break, experiencing some degree of success. Opening the weekend against Colby, the men, like the women blanked the Mules, winning convincingly 9-0.

A testament to the control Middlebury had over Colby, only two players from Middlebury had to play more than the minimum three matches in order to secure the win.

Middlebury then completed a similarly pleasantly uneventful game against Bowdoin, with the Panthers thoroughly in control against the Polar Bears, roaring to an 8-1 victory. Parker Hurst ’14 and Andrew Jung ’16 continued their solid play of late, beating their opposition from Bowdoin in straight sets. First-year Andrew Cadienhead ’17 continued to assert himself as a strong player, with another competitive win at the difficult third slot.

“The team proved to be reaching our prime by beating Bowdoin,” Rob Galluccio ’15 said. “[The match] was a good indicator as we gear up to play similar competitors like Williams and Drexel, matches which will be more important in establishing our ranking going forward.”

The match against St. Lawrence, however, was not in Middlebury’s favor. The fourth-ranked team in the country, and a perennial contender at the NCAA championships, St. Lawrence provided the Middlebury men with a stiff challenge. St. Lawrence lived up to their reputation, handing the Panthers a 9-0 defeat.

While a discouraging result superficially, Middlebury competed well against perhaps the best competition they will face before the championship season begins.

Both the men’s and women’s teams displayed their dominance against NESCAC-foe Amherst on Tuesday, Jan. 14, each downing the Lord Jeffs 8-1.

“We were much better against Amherst than we were in the same match last season,” Galluccio said. “We played at our best and we’re coming into the most important part of the season really confident about what we can accomplish.”

Both teams continue with NESCAC play at Williams on Saturday, Jan. 18.

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