The Tufts women’s squash team began the new year training at the Stanford University facilities in Palo Alto, Calif. The Jumbos spent ten days at Stanford leading up to their first match of 2018 against the Cardinal. The trip provided an opportunity for the team to hone its skills on the court, and it also allowed for time to become closer as a group off the court.
“We were really fortunate to be able to train at Stanford,” first-year Rachel Windreich told the Daily in an email. “We worked really hard and put in a lot of good work. Not only was the squash great, but the trip allowed us to bond even more as a team.”
The Jumbos’ match against the Cardinal on Jan. 11 was the first of their five away matches in less than two weeks. Tufts struggled against the nation’s fourth-ranked team, falling 9–0 to Stanford, which has only lost one match this season. The closest individual match for Tufts came from junior Sinclair Meggitt, who played in the tenth spot on the ladder and fell to Stanford sophomore Julia Gillette in four hard-fought sets.
Despite not coming away with the result they had hoped for, playing against such a high-level team was a beneficial experience for the Jumbos.
“We went into the match knowing we were major underdogs, but we were determined to have a positive mindset and fight for every point,” Windreich told the Daily in an email. “Playing against some of the top college players motivates us to continue to work hard and continue to improve as players.”
Tufts bounced back with a 6–3 win over No. 17 Dickinson College on Jan. 15. As has been the case throughout the season, the depth of the Jumbos’ roster was on display against the Red Devils, with five of their six wins coming at the bottom of the ladder. All of the team’s individual matches against Dickinson were highly competitive. Aside from sophomore Catherine Shanahan, who defeated Dickinson senior Stuart Lemay in three sets, each match went at least four sets.
Windreich played her most tenacious match of the season against first-year Aya Sobhy in the fifth position. Heading into the third set, Windreich faced a daunting 0–2 deficit, but stayed focused and used the support of her teammates to win the following three sets 11–6, 11–8, 11–7 and record a victory for the Jumbos.
“After the first two games, I really tried to change my strategy and work on certain aspects of my game. My opponent was not giving in, so I knew I had to continue to fight until the last point,” Windreich told the Daily in an email.
Having regained confidence with their win over the Red Devils, the Jumbos traveled to Haverford, Pa., where they played two matches the following day. Tufts began the day with a 9–0 win over No. 30 Haverford College. First-year Julie Yeung, who has played in the top spot on the Jumbos’ ladder every match this season, gave up only two games in three sets, as she defeated Haverford senior Isabelle Gotuaco 11–1, 11–0, 11–1. Playing in the fourth spot for the Jumbos, Windreich gave up just one game in her 11–0, 11–1, 11–0 win over sophomore Sunyoung Chai. The Jumbos dominated the Fords on all accounts, with all but one match lasting the minimum three sets.
In its second match of the day, Tufts faced a NESCAC opponent in 24th-ranked Conn. College. The Jumbos handily defeated the Camels 9–0 to end the day having won 18 games and lost none.
The match-up against Conn. College featured a number of close matches, including Yeung’s five-set win over senior Mawa Bello. Heading into the third set facing a 2–1 deficit, the San Jose, Calif. native outlasted her opponent, winning the final two sets 11–5, 11–2 to complete the Jumbos’ sweep of the Camels.
Windreich believes that the intense training sessions at Stanford and confidence from the previous day’s win over Dickinson contributed to Tufts’ success against Haverford and Conn. College.
“We felt prepared going into the matches, as we had put in a lot of hard work and come off of a big win against Dickinson,” Windreich told the Daily in an email. “We knew we needed to just play our game and stay focused.”
Tufts played its fifth and final match of the demanding road stretch against No. 1 Harvard on Jan. 20. Despite falling 9–0, the Jumbos played persistently, fighting for each point.
Junior captain Chista Irani’s match was the closest of the day for the Jumbos, as she won 17 games against first-year Olivia Chapman in a three-set match that ended 11–7, 11–4, 11–6.
Overall, Tufts went 3–2 over the course of two weeks, a stretch in which they faced two of the highest-ranked opponents they will see this season. The Jumbos are 9–3 in the season and currently ranked 19th in the nation. The team will travel to Lewiston, Maine on Friday for an in-conference match-up against No. 29 Bates.