Women’s squash goes 2–2 over break, gears up for the rest of the season

2/18/18 – Boston, MA – Tufts player Chloe Kantor '21, returns the ball during the College Women's National Team Championship on Feb. 18, 2018. (Allison Culbert / The Tufts Daily)

The No. 19 Tufts women’s squash team played a slew of matches during the last full week of winter break, the Jumbos’ first time back on the court since their last official match on Dec. 8, 2018.

During the break in competition, the team prepared diligently for upcoming matches against Yale, Amherst, Conn. College and Dickinson College.

“We brought the team back a little bit early from winter break and we trained really hard in anticipation for those matches, so we felt good going into them,” coach Joe Raho remarked.

On Monday, the team traveled to Brown University to face Dickinson. Two first-year players, Megan Chen in the third position and Diya Sanghi in the seventh position, picked up victories in their matches.  Chen played four games (12–10, 11–9, 5–11, 11–8) to beat sophomore Eloise Nimoityn. Sophomore Jumbo Rachel Windreich in the sixth spot battled neck-in-neck with senior Nicole DeLuca. Windreich played a five-game match to victory (12–10, 0–11, 11–6, 6–11, 11–5). Raho praised Windreich’s tenacity on the court.

“I think that Windreich had a standout performance this week,” Raho said.

Senior Zarena Jafry, in the fourth position, took on sophomore Aya Sobhy and won 11–9, 11–2, 11–6, while Julie Yeung battled with first-year Courtney Trail in the second spot. Trail won the first game in extra points, 16–14.  Yeung then rallied back and won the second and third games, 8–11 and 7–11.  Trail responded by taking game four 11–9 and game five 11–6, winning the match. Junior co-captain Claire Davidson, in the top position, fell in three games (11–6,1 11–4, 11–3) to first-year Lindsay Kuracina of Dickinson. The Jumbos defeated Dickinson 7–2, improving to a 5–4 record. 

The team executed an outstanding performance in the face of a strong opponent like Dickinson, and Raho did not hesitate to commemorate their efforts.

“Dickinson was our most intense match of the year,” Raho said. “The women played fantastically and won rather comfortably, 7–2.  I’m really proud of what they’ve done so far.”

On Jan. 13, Tufts traveled to Harvard for the second straight day to play conference rival Conn. College. The Jumbos swept the Camels 9–0.  Davidson won her match (11–5, 11–0, 11–3) against junior Davis Lemay of Conn., giving up only eight total points.  Sophomore Chloe Kantor (No.7) played an impressive game as well, beating her opponent decisively (11–6, 11–1, 11–3).  Raho noted that he has seen the most improvement in Kantor, who usually plays in the number seven, eight or nine seeds.

“Chloe Kantor has definitely taken steps in her game from last year to this year,” Raho said. “She’s been playing really steady at the bottom of the line-up, so she has definitely improved for sure.”

The day before, the squad played NESCAC rival Amherst at Harvard.  The Jumbos put on an impressive performance against the Mammoths, but ultimately fell short, 6–3. Davidson (No.1), Yeung (No.2) and Chen (No.3) were able to pick up wins in their matches. 

“We figured we could win this match [against Amherst].  Both teams fought super hard, and we were only a few points from winning the match,” Raho said.

The more recent victories served as a bounce back for Tufts, after the team suffered an overwhelming defeat courtesy of No. 6 Yale on Jan. 7 in their first match of the new year.  The Bulldogs swept 9–0.   Raho was not particularly surprised by the team’s defeat given Yale’s elite team.

The squad travels to Franklin and Marshall on Sunday before returning to Cambridge to play conference opponent Bates at Harvard on Jan. 25. Raho suspects that the Franklin and Marshall team will play great squash and will match the Jumbos in terms of skill level, as they’re only ranked one spot below the Jumbos at No. 20. The Bates match also offers an opportunity for Tufts to improve on their conference record.

“We are looking forward to ending our season strong and to our match against Bates in the next few weeks, so we are training hard for that as well,” Kantor said.  “Hopefully, we can get some good wins throughout the season’s run-in.”