Following a weekend of excellent individual play at the D3 Singles Championship, the focus for the athletes in the Middlebury women’s squash program was once again on team play at Team Nationals from Friday, Feb. 21 to Sunday, Feb. 23.
Following a regular season in which the Panthers went 8-7 against some of the best competition in the country, the women found themselves this weekend at Princeton University ranked 14th nationally. This ranking translated to the Panthers’ earning the 6th seed in the B Division at Team Nationals, competing for the Kurtz Cup.
On Friday evening, the women’s squash team drew 11th ranked George Washington University in the first round of play.
The Colonials were no strangers to Middlebury, with the two sides having squared off at the Yale Round Robin a month ago. With George Washington having taken the first match 7-2, the Panthers were eager to balance the series.
Unfortunately, the Colonials showed their might and proved too much for Middlebury to handle. Play opened poorly for the Panthers, with the usually dominant trio at the top of Middlebury’s lineup, Abby Jenkins ’14, Charlotte Dewey ’15 and Annie Wymard ’15 falling to their counterparts from George Washington. Despite solid wins from the consistent Zoe Carey ’16 and Saskia Pownall-Gray ’16, the final score was not favorable to the Panthers, who fell 6-3 to George Washington.
Despite the early setback, the Panthers still had a full weekend of play ahead of them. While the possibility for a championship was gone, the women’s squash team had the opportunity to compete and improve its national ranking. In the consolation bracket, Middlebury once again faced a familiar foe in Williams College. Having dropped their previous matchup against the Ephs 5-4, Middlebury was aware of the challenges winning would entail, but were confident in its ability to compete with Williams.
Jenkins, after falling behind early, got Middlebury off to a fine start with a win in the first singles slot. However, Williams’ 2nd through 5th ranked players shut down Middlebury, who did not record a win until Carey and Amanda Chen ’14 both picked up their second wins of the weekend at the tail end of the match. After falling 6-3 to Williams, the women were left with only one matchup left to determine the 7th and 8th place finishers in the Kurtz Cup.
The Panthers then faced conference foe Hamilton, a matchup that presented the opportunity to exact some revenge on a team that scored an unexpected win over Middlebury in the Panthers’ first match of the season.
Middlebury took great measures to ensure the match against Hamilton would not be as dramatic this time around. With all around dominant performances, Middlebury won the first eight matches against Hamilton, leaving absolutely no doubt as to who the winner would be.
At the end of the tournament, Carey and Chen remained undefeated through this tough weekend of play.
In addition to the weekend’s play, a pair of women’s squash players were named to All-NESCAC teams over the weekend. Both Jenkins and Dewey represent Middlebury on the all-conference first team. This is Jenkins’ third time on the first team, and Dewey’s second.
With the win over Hamilton, the team finishes up the 2013-2014 campaign with an even record of 9-9, with their primary highlight coming in the form of a third-place finish at the NESCAC championships. Middlebury ends the season with the 15th ranking overall in the country.