For the second year in a row, the Jumbos will be playing at the NESCAC tournament. Squash powerhouse Trinity will host the tournament in Hartford, Conn. on Feb. 10 and 11.
Last Tuesday, the regular season ended on a rather bleak note, with the Jumbos falling to No. 1 Harvard 9–0, dropping No. 16 Tufts to 8–5 on the season. Considering Harvard’s elite ranking as the best squash team in the country, one would expect Tufts, which is outside the top 15, to score around zero points against their contenders. However, the ladies played solid squash; each team member averaged close to 13 points against their opponent. Junior co-captain Claire Davidson tallied 20 points, the most out of her teammates, against her opponent, Harvard first-year Amina Yousry (11–8, 11–7, 11–5). The loss against Harvard did not deflate the team’s hopes going into the break preceding NESCACs.
“Harvard is the top in country so there was really no pressure for us going into that match,” Davidson said. “I don’t think this loss will hurt our morale at all after the fact.”
In fact, senior co-captain Chista Irani sees the team as gaining from the loss.
“There was some good squash, and [the game] is helping us train for the NESCACs,” Irani told the Daily in an e-mail. “It was a great opportunity to play against women who are some of the top players in the country.”
The women’s squash team will be playing Amherst in the first round of the tournament on Saturday morning. Coach Joe Raho and the team are looking to redeem themselves after losing to them 6–3 on Jan. 10.
“We are going to go in with a lot of confidence that we can handle a lot of teams in our conference,” Raho said. “We are trying to stay focused. Hopefully, we can turn around a good match. We lost to Amherst 6–3 last time we played them during the regular season, so we are hoping to turn it around and pull out a win.”
Davidson echoed her coach’s statement.
“We lost to them earlier in the season, but they lost to Bates, and we just beat Bates, so it’s going to be a close match,” Davidson said.
Over the past few weeks, the team has put in many hours of training in anticipation of the duel against the Mammoths. They have had a laser-like focus on and off the courts.
“Since we played them recently, we know their ladder really well,” Davidson said. “We’ve been talking about each individual player on their team, practicing really hard and doing a lot of fitness seven days a week.”
The team appears to be in mint condition and ready for action, but competition remains stiff. Raho knows how good Tufts’ conference rivals are and isn’t sure if his team will make it past the second round. No. 3 Trinity, No. 13 Williams and No. 14 Middlebury, all conference rivals, erect a formidable wall which blocks the players’ aspirations of winning it all.
Raho said he doesn’t think the team will go to the NESCAC finals.
“Hopefully, we can play a great match against Amherst,” Raho said. “If we advance, it unlikely for us to beat Trinity or the other NESCACs in the second round as they are very good teams.”
The Jumbos face the Mammoths in a Proboscidean encounter at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Haverford, Conn.