Jumbos take down Camels, fall to Panthers, Polar Bears and Mules

Junior Lauren Banner swings at the ball in a match against Dickinson at Harvard's Murr Center on Jan 20. (Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily)

Tufts started the NESCAC Championship weekend off strong with a win against Conn. College but fell short in its matches against Middlebury, Bowdoin and Colby.

It was a long weekend in Amherst, with four matches for the team over a span of three days.

Sixth-seeded Tufts took on ninth-seeded Colby on Sunday in a consolation round. Sophomore Sahana Karthik and junior Lauren Banner won their matches. Karthik fought an extended five-game battle and Banner recovered from a first game loss, winning the next three in a row. Their efforts weren’t enough to stop the Mules from taking the Jumbos down with a rattling final score of 7-2. 

Sophomore Olivia Ladd-Luthringshauser explained that while the team ultimately lost, the scoreline does not reflect how close the matches really were.

“Four of those matches went to five games,” Ladd-Luthringshauser said.

Ladd-Luthringshauser, as well as first-years Claire Davidson, Catherine Shanahan and Sahar Tirmizi, all fought for five games at the tail end of an exhausting weekend, barely falling short to their Colby opponents.

Before facing Colby, Tufts ended Saturday with a match against seventh-seeded Bowdoin. The final score of an extremely close matchup was 5-4, and five of those matches went to four games. Tirmizi and sophomores Chista Irani, Sinclair Meggitt and Ladd-Luthringshauser provided the Tufts squad with its four wins. Both Ladd-Luthringshauser and Meggitt defeated their opponents in clean sweeps.

Saturday morning started with the Jumbos facing off against the third-seeded Middlebury Panthers. It proved to be the toughest round of the tournament for the Jumbos, as Middlebury swept the match 9-0. Davidson kept pace for four games before falling, but the no other Jumbo managed to take a game off the Panthers.

In their first match of the weekend, the Jumbos started off strong with a win over 11th-seeded Conn. College. The Jumbos swept the Camels 9-0, with six of those matches won in only three games. Sophomore Hannah Burns, Shanahan, Karthik, Ladd-Luthringshauser, Tirmizi and Irani were all responsible for those three-game sweeps, with Burns keeping her opponent to fewer than seven points for the entire match.

With a 12-0 run to start the season, Irani explained that much of the team’s success can be attributed to a consistent work ethic as well as teamwork.

“Our team’s success this year is greatly due to our team’s chemistry and also the focus we bring to every practice,” Irani told the Daily in an email. “I think since day one of the season, we took our practice sessions very seriously, and that definitely prepared us, physically and mentally, [for] some of our harder matches this season.

Despite their terrific start to the season, the Jumbos have hit a bit of a rough patch as of late.

“It’s been really eye-opening for us to play some of the harder teams that we saw either at the beginning of the season and now we’re seeing again or teams we haven’t seen at all,” Ladd-Luthringshauser said. “But we’re taking a new mindset going forward.”

Ahead lies the College Squash Association National Team Championships, hosted at Princeton from Feb. 24 to 26. With only games against Wellesley and Boston College scheduled between now and Nationals, the Tufts squad is taking this opportunity to rest and recover from its grueling NESCAC weekend.  

“Right now we’re really focusing on rest and recovery,” Burns said. “It was a really long weekend, and it’s been a bunch of long weekends consecutively.”

Burns added that the Jumbos are taking this opportunity to set specific goals ahead of the biggest tournament of the year.

“Before matches, we talk about what we want to accomplish as a team and how as a team, we can best take the match head on,” Burns said. “Every day, we all know what we have to focus on in practice. I think that holding each other accountable and reminding each other of those goals we need to work on every day helps us hold each other up together as a team.”