After a busy weekend that included matchups against Dickinson, Georgetown and Boston University, the Tufts women’s squash team managed to protect their perfect record and advance to 12-0 on the season. The 18th-ranked Jumbos have outdone expectations throughout the season, utilizing both young talent and veteran leadership.
The Jumbos lost four matches for the third time this season on Friday but still managed to pick up five matches and squeak by No. 21 Dickinson. Tufts was carried by junior Lauren Banner and sophomores Chista Irani, Olivia Ladd-Luthringshauser, Sinclair Meggitt and Sahana Karthik. Without any seniors on the roster, the team continued to depend on its core of juniors and sophomores against Dickinson at Harvard.
“I would say the ‘key to success’ is our positive team dynamic,” Karthik said after the win on Friday. “When we’re on the court together during practices, we motivate each other to focus. When we are playing other teams, we do a good job of cheering for each other during games and coaching each other in between games.”
And while the team’s perfect record is impressive in itself, the Jumbos’ dominance on the road should not go unnoticed. The team has managed to shut out its opponent twice away from home. Additionally, Tufts has played two-thirds of its games thus far in unfamiliar territory, yet it remains unbeaten.
“As a team, I think we have pretty good pregame routines and warm-ups to help us adjust to different courts and surroundings,” Karthik said.
Karthik went on to win both of her matches on Sunday in three games against Georgetown and Boston University. Tufts won 7-0 and 9-0 against Georgetown and Boston University, respectively, at home. The 12-0 record is the best in team’s history with the closest rival being the 2000-2001 Tufts women’s team that started the year 5-0.
“It’s definitely a good feeling and we are proud of ourselves, but we still have some key matches,” Karthik said. “So while we are beyond happy with our 12-0 start, we know that we have to continue to practice hard to maintain this level of play. We’re playing teams that we saw previously in the season, and although we won earlier, the scores were close, and so playing them again will definitely be one of our bigger challenges.”
Tufts’ closest match came against No. 25 Colby, which it will take on again on Sunday on the road. However, the Jumbos’ biggest obstacle in their pursuit for perfection may come Friday in a match against the Harvard Crimson, the top-ranked team in the country, in Cambridge. Harvard, also undefeated, has only played five games so far this season. Much like the Jumbos, the Crimson have shown resiliency when away from home courts, as four of their wins have come on the road. The Crimson are coming off a 9-0 blowout win over No. 5 Stanford on Thursday. They haven’t lost by a margin smaller than five matches all season and have only faced teams ranked in the top 15.
Whatever the outcome of Friday’s match, some members have looked to the team’s growth rather than the number in the win column as a marker of their success.
“Being on this team, win or lose, is something I am incredibly proud of,” junior captain Claudia Udolf said.
Udolf is one of four juniors on the team, and despite being injured at the moment, he has been a source for guidance and support throughout the season.
Tufts has a busy weekend ahead, with matches at Harvard on Friday, against Conn. College at home on Saturday and a double-header at Bates and at Colby Sunday.
Tufts will then enter postseason play with the NESCAC Championship starting on Friday, Feb 3. Currently ranked sixth-highest among NESCAC teams in the Dunlop College Squash Association rankings, the Jumbos will be looking to further their historic run with their eyes on the postseason.