Opening of new squash facilities highlighted by victory for women’s team

Senior co-captain Catherine Shanahan prepares to return the ball during a match against Connecticut College at the Tufts Squash Center on Feb. 1. Nicole Garay / The Tufts Daily

It was a busy weekend for the women’s squash team, who played four matches in three days, including the program’s first ever home match at the newly opened Tufts Squash Center.

Tufts played their final match of the weekend on Sunday afternoon against NESCAC opponent No. 17 Middlebury at home. The No. 19 Jumbos fell to the Panthers 7–2.

Playing in the first position for Tufts, senior co-captain Claire Davidson defeated Middlebury sophomore Ideal Dowling in a close five-game match. Trailing Dowling 2–1 heading into the fourth game, Davidson fought back winning the fourth and fifth games 11–4 and 11–6 to defeat Dowling.

“It was really nice to play a close match at home with lots of supporters,” Davidson wrote in an email to the Daily. “My opponent was a good player that I have played many times over the years and it’s always close, but that day I had the excitement of playing on our home courts and having so many parents, friends and supporters watching, it made the difference.”

First-year Isa Schneider recorded Tufts’ only other win against Middlebury as she defeated her opponent, junior Virginia Schaus, in a decisive three game win.

Earlier that morning, Tufts fell to No. 10 University of Virginia (UVA) 9–0. Facing a top 10 opponent who they had not yet played this year proved a challenge for the Jumbos — they only won two games across the 10 matches. But, it was still an opportunity for individuals to gain exposure to some of the nation’s top collegiate players.

“They’re an incredibly talented team and it was really cool to be able to play at that level,” senior co-captain Catherine Shanahan wrote in an email to the Daily. Shanahan lost 3–0 in her match against UVA first-year Maria Paula Moya.

On Saturday, Tufts faced No. 25 Conn. College in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Tufts Squash Center in the program’s first ever home match at the facility. Students, families and friends poured into the new facility to watch the Jumbos’ decisive 9–0 win over the Camels.

All 10 individual matches lasted just three games in Tufts’ sweep of Conn. College. Playing in the fourth position for the Jumbos, sophomore Megan Chen had a standout performance, giving up just eight points in her 11–3, 11–4, 11–1 victory over Conn. College junior Molly Carabatsos.

The excitement surrounding the new facility was tangible in Tufts’ performance on the court, according to Shanahan.

“I cannot express how excited and grateful I am about the opening of the Tufts Squash Center,” Shanahan wrote. “I truly never thought I would get to play a home match so the whole experience was really surreal … the excitement definitely contributed to nerves and energy towards the match against Connecticut College so I’m glad it went well.”

Davidson echoed a similar sentiment of excitement and highlighted the simplified logistics of having on-campus facilities.

“We are all so excited about the new facility,” Davidson wrote. “After years of driving the van 25 minutes to and from practice late at night, the squash program finally has the state-of-the-art facility we deserve.”

Saturday’s exciting win came after a hard-fought loss 7–2 at No. 16 Amherst on Friday. The two wins for the Jumbos came from Chen and junior Rachel Windreich, playing in the fourth and seventh positions, respectively.

The jam-packed weekend was tiring both physically and mentally for the team, but Davidson believes it served as solid preparation for the upcoming tournaments.

“We were definitely all feeling a little tired after the weekend,” Davidson wrote. “However, it’s important to play long weekends of tough matches because the NESCAC tournament and CSA (College Squash Association) nationals are both weekends with multiple matches and we want to get our bodies as prepared as they can be for long, tiring weekends of squash.”

Tufts will travel to Wesleyan this weekend for the three-day NESCAC Championship. The Jumbos have already faced seven of their 10 NESCAC opponents this season.