Women’s Squash to Return to Action at Nationals

By Sebastian Sanchez

The women’s squash team headed to Hartford, Conn. for the NESCAC tournament over the weekend of Feb. 6-7. The Panthers entered the tournament ranked 15th in the nation and third in the conference.

The Panthers dismantled Hamilton in the quarterfinal match winning 8-1. Middlebury had strong performances from Zoe Carey ’16, Alexa Comai ’19 and Beatrijs Kuijipers ’19.

Kuijipers started an exceptionally strong weekend at the NESCAC tournament by winning in straight sets against Hamilton with scores of 11-4, 11-3 and 11-3. Kuijipers would later have the only victory for the Panthers when the team fell to Williams in the semifinals.

Coach Mark Lewis said that “the loss to Williams was tough. Carey and Comai lost in five close games so the score line of 8-1 was not indicative of how close the match was.”

After beating Hamilton, the third ranked Panthers renewed their classic NESCAC rivalry with Williams. Earlier in the season, Middlebury lost 7-2 with wins from Carey and Comai.

Though Middlebury put up a strong fight, Williams beat back the surge of Blue and White and beat the Panthers 8-1, ending Middlebury’s NESCAC Championship run.

This time around, Kuijpers had the sole victory against the Eph’s, winning in straight sets in the third slot.

“She is extremely hard working and the epitome of a competitor,” injured player Liddy Renner ’18 said of her first-year teammate Kuijipers. “As soon as she steps on the court it’s clear that she is focused and willing to let her opponent come out on top. She’s been a rock
for our team this season.”

She won her first two matches 11-6 and completed the sweep with an 11-4 win.

“Bea [Kuijipers] has been a very tough competitor all season — a reliable win [for the team],” Lewis said about the first-year standout. “Her fighting spirit and work ethic inspire her teammates day in and day out.”
After the loss against Williams, Middlebury competed against Amherst for third place. The Panthers beat the Lord Jeff 8-1 and won the third place for the second year in a row.

“The team came out firing on all cylanders,” Lewis said of the team’s effort against Amherst. “Convincing wins by Carey, Comai, Kuijpers [and] Lucy Bostwick ’18 put us in the lead. Audrey Ellen ’17 and Hope Matthews ’18’s tough four game victories put us over the top.”

After securing the win, the Panthers improved to 8-7 and will return to the National Team Championships.

Overall, the Panthers have had a strong season and look to make a run in the B division at nationals Feb. 25-27 at Yale.