The squash season officially came to an end this past weekend for both the men’s and women’s teams as first-year Aidan Porges of the men’s team and senior captain Paget Stanco of the women’s team competed in the College Squash Association (CSA) Individual Nationals. Unfortunately for the Jumbos, both Porges and Stanco lost in the opening round and in their consolation games, both lost to the eventual winners of their brackets.
Porges, who was ranked No. 90 in the country, faced off on Friday against Yale University junior Kah Wah Cheong, who was ranked No. 17 in the country. Like Porges, Cheong plays in the fourth position for the Bulldogs. However, the upperclassman’s experience prevailed in the first round on Friday, as Cheong won comfortably in three games 11-1, 11-7, 11-2 in the A bracket matchup of the Molloy Division.
Porges then competed on Saturday against University of Pennsylvania sophomore Derek Hsue in the consolation round. Hsue had lost his first match against St. Lawrence University first-year George Willis in five games 9-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4. However, Hsue was still able to top Porges in the consolation matchup in straight games 11-7, 11-7, 11-5, and the first-year Jumbo exited the tournament without a win. Still, just making it to the CSA Individual Nationals and representing Tufts is an impressive feat in itself for the rookie and is indicative of the men’s team’s budding young talent.
On the women’s side of the draw, Stanco, ranked No. 66, failed to overcome No. 31 Trinity College first-year Jennifer Haley. While Stanco kept the score close in the first two games, she eventually lost 11-7, 11-9, 11-2.
In the consolation rounds, Stanco was unable to avenge her pair of regular season losses to Wellesley College sophomore Sarah Zhang, as she fell to Zhang again this weekend in their third meeting of the season. Zhang beat Stanco 11-9, 11-3, 11-8 in their first matchup in January, and when the two players renewed their rivalry in February while facing off at the CSA Team Nationals in the first position, Zhang won that closely fought encounter 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 8-11,11-5. Zhang swept the series on Saturday, winning the third meeting 11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 11-3.
“Sarah and I have always played amazing matches, and I definitely went into it hoping that it would be ‘third time’s the charm,’” Stanco said. “But, I think we have really competitive matches, and we both play a really different game, and to compete together is always quite enjoyable.”
This also marked Stanco’s last ever game as a Jumbo squash player, though she foresees herself contributing to the program in the future.
“I joined as a sophomore, and squash has been a huge part of my life growing up,” Stanco said. “It was always more about having fun and who your teammates were [than just rankings] … It was pretty amazing to watch a team I played number one on for three years to move up the rankings, and it was my honor being a two-year captain for the team. I think overall Tufts was an awesome experience to learn so much outside of the court, and it’s really sad that it’s over, but I’m going to stay involved as much as I can.”
She is the only senior graduating from the program and is excited for the team’s future.
“The only way is up really, and we got really good recruits this year. Everyone’s young, everyone’s hungry and wants to win and move up the national rankings,” Stanco said. “With the level of players we’re now having on the team, I think Tufts Squash is a huge program that is growing, and I’m very excited to watch this.”