Women’s Squash Defeated at CSA Championships

By EMILY BIAN

Following a third-place finish at NESCACs earlier this month, the 15th-ranked Middlebury women’s squash team headed to the CSA Team Championships this past weekend in hopes to win the Kurtz Cup. The three-day national team championships were hosted by Trinity in the Kellner Squash Center. 

Middlebury entered their bracket as a huge underdog as they had to compete in the B Draw against teams ranked nationally 9th-16th. The tough weekend began when they faced 10th-ranked Virginia in the quarterfinals, who the Panthers lost to 9-0 earlier this season. The Panthers did not manage to claim a single point, falling 9-0 again. However, Alexa Comai ’19 fought back from a two-game deficit, bringing her match at No.3 to a decisive fifth game, while Natalie Madden ’21 managed to claim a game at No.5. 

While the Panthers fell to Virginia, their morale and competitive spirit remained high. In the consolation semifinals, they had the opportunity to come out on top against 14th ranked George Washington. During regular season, the Panthers narrowly missed the win in a 5-4 heartbreaking loss, in which all the matches were competitive and tight. The tide changed when Middlebury fought tooth and nail at the CSA Team Championships, defeating the Colonials in a crushing 6-3 win. 

Very quickly, the Panthers secured the win by claiming the first five matches. Mira Chugh ’20 won by default at No. 9, while Natasha Lowitt ’20 doubled the Panther’s edge with a three-game victory one spot above over Anna Moscovici (11-4, 11-5, 11-6). At No.6, Anne Glassie ’20 scratched her way back from a two-game deficit to tally another point for the Panthers (5-11, 8-11, 14-12, 11-5, 11-7). Comai showed the same spirit in her five-game triumph against Emma Tyron in the third position with a score of 4-11, 6-11, 11-5, 1–6, 11-8. For the match-clinching fifth match, first-year Gwen Davis secured this decisive point via a three-game sweep at No.7 (11-8, 11-3, 11-8). 

The Panthers moved on to play Williams, vying for 13th/14th place spot in the national rankings. Unfortunately, they fell by a score of 7-2 on Sunday. The match took place at Wesleyan’s Rosenbaum Squash Center and marked the third time this season the two teams have had to play. In the first encounter, the Panthers were victorious at home with a 6-3 win. In the NESCAC Semifinals, they were not as fortunate and fell 6-3. 

In a grueling and mentally tough atmosphere, Middlebury unfortunately lost 7-2. The Panthers claimed their first point when Beatrijs Kuijpers ’19 won and Davis followed close behind with a five game triumph at No.7 against Kathryn Wright (9-11, 11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 11-9). Many other matches, though did not post a win, were extremely close. At No. 2, Ideal Dowling, a first year with an outstanding first season, fell in a tough four-game match. Virginia Schaus ’21 and Chugh followed similar fates. 

Reflecting on the tournament and her final season, co-captain Comai states, “This season obviously had its high and low points. I felt that overall the team really came together both on and off the courts.”

Coach Lewis agrees. “In the match against George Washington, we put in a really strong performance. Overall the season was good.  Every team member had some wins and in their losses hopefully walked away with some valuable takeaways.”

Contributing factors to a solid season for the Panthers boiled down to great leadership and  strong performances from the underclassmen. 

“We had a lot of great first years and sophomores who had an enormously positive contribution to the team and I am excited to see how they can help us to be even better next year,” Comai said. 

“This year we had amazing leadership under our captain, as well as the rest of the senior class. We feel super grateful for everything that they have done for us and will miss them dearly,” Dowling said.

The women’s squash team is officially finished with their season, except for a select few competing in the Individual CSA Championship in Providence, Rhode Island Feb. 28-March 2. The tournament will be hosted by Brown and the Moses Brown School. 

After a grueling and competitive season, the Panthers undoubtedly deserve a break but are also looking forward to continue training hard, preparing for the next season. 

“I think after a little break, we want to try to do a lot of match play and captains’ practices this spring to keep our skill and fitness level high. We also want to try to incorporate a lot of mental fitness training this spring and fall in order to allow each of us to be in our best competitive headspace come season,” Comai said.

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Women’s Squash Defeated at CSA Championships