Jumbos fall to Mammoths at NESCAC Championships

Tufts women's squash faced off against Wellesley on Jan. 27, 2016 at MIT's Zesiger Squash Courts (Alex Knapp / The Tufts Daily)

The fifth-seeded Tufts women’s squash team surveyed its competition this weekend at the NESCAC Championships in Clinton, N.Y., where it fell to fourth-seeded Amherst, 7–2, in the first round of play before taking on Hamilton and Bates in the consolation bracket. With large crowds packed into Hamilton’s Little Squash Center, the Jumbos prepared themselves to play a handful of familiar opponents. Tufts entered the tournament with an 11–4 record, seeking to improve or maintain its current standing in the conference.

On Sunday morning, the Jumbos competed in consolation play against the sixth-seeded Bates Bobcats. Having lost to Bates 7–2 on Jan. 26, Tufts was well-acquainted with the strength of its opponents. This time around, the Jumbos secured three wins against Bates at the bottom of the ladder, but were defeated 6–3 overall.

Playing in the eighth position, senior Lauren Banner put her best foot forward on Sunday, easily topping Bates senior Hannah Conner in three games. Tufts junior Sahana Karthik served Bates junior Molly Brooks a five-set loss in the seventh position (11–4, 6–11, 11–5, 7–11, 11–6), while Tufts first-year Chloe Kantor defeated Bates junior Katie Bull in the ninth spot (10–12, 11–4, 11–0, 6–11, 11–7).

In the second position, sophomore Claire Davidson fell to Bobcats sophomore Vicky Arjoon in four sets (11–5, 9–11, 11–6, 11–9), and the rest of the Jumbos were defeated in straight sets.

“I think we were a little disappointed to lose against Bates,” Burns said. “We all fought hard, so we were proud with the effort that we put forth.”

With an undertone of vengeance, Burns expressed excitement for the prospect of seeing Bates again at the College Squash Association (CSA) Nationals later this month.

Following its first-round loss to Amherst on Saturday, Tufts took advantage of an eighth-seeded Hamilton team that it had already defeated once this season, winning 8–1 this time around.

“The win against Hamilton was significant, as it secured our position in the top six,” first-year Julie Yeung told the Daily in an email. “I was just thinking back to how I finished my match against the Hamilton [player], and the tremendous support that both the women’s and men’s team[s] displayed while I, or even the rest of the team, was playing. Everyone was cheering loudly and encouraging each other.”

After she dropped the first set, 11–6, to Hamilton senior Rafiatou Ouro-Aguy, Yeung rallied to win the next three games and secure a point for her team. Playing in the third position, Tufts junior Zarena Jafry also won in four sets (11–3, 11–6, 6–11, 11–7). It was the second victory of the day for both players, as they each defeated their Amherst opponents that morning, as well.

In the eighth position, Banner was edged out in four sets by Hamilton senior Marina Hartnick. Nevertheless, the Jumbos secured a decisive 8–1 match victory.

Saturday commenced with a formidable challenge, as the Jumbos matched up against the fourth-seeded Amherst Mammoths, whom they had fallen to 7–2 in the first match of the season.

“I think our match with Amherst was a competitive match,” Burns told the Daily in an email. “They definitely had an edge on us, but we are really close behind them and are training hard to catch them in the future.”

Despite the different venue, Tufts again fell to Amherst, 7–2, at the NESCAC Championships. Yeung’s straight-set win over Amherst senior Haley McAtee in the first position was the highlight for Tufts, as Jafry also contributed a win from the third position, edging out junior Rachael Ang in five sets (11–4, 12–10, 9–11, 8–11, 11–5).

The rest of the Jumbos fought hard, with a few competing in back-and-forth four setters, but eventually fell to the Mammoths.

Reflecting on the weekend as a whole, Tufts felt proud of its results against three strong NESCAC opponents. There is still room for improvement, but the Jumbos seem to have put up a performance representative of their season to this point.

“I think people fought hard each rally and supported each other really well,” Yeung said. “As a team, I think we succeeded in the sense that we held each other together in both defeat and victory.”

Tufts aims to replicate the same cohesive unity and competitive play in the remaining portion of its season. The Jumbos will host the Boston University Terriers in a non-conference matchup on Saturday, before concluding their season at the CSA Nationals from Feb. 16–18.