Women’s squash finishes 6th at NESCAC Championship

Tufts first-year Abhilasha Bhasin returns the ball during a match against Conn. College at the Tufts Squash Center on Feb. 1. Nicole Garay / The Tufts Daily

The women’s squash team claimed sixth place in the NESCAC tournament this weekend, finishing 2–2 in its four matches over the course of the three-day event. Along with the eleven other NESCAC teams, the Jumbos traveled to Middletown, Conn. on Friday for the tournament hosted by Wesleyan.

Tufts, the sixth seed, had a strong first-round match on Friday afternoon, defeating 11th-seeded Colby 8–1. The Jumbos’ depth was on display in this match, with several dominant wins coming from the bottom half of the ladder.

Playing in the sixth position for Tufts, junior Rachel Windreich gave up just six points in her 11–3, 11–0, 11–3 win against Colby junior D’Arcy Carlson.

Junior Chloe Kantor played a resilient match in the fifth spot for Tufts. After falling 7–11 to Colby junior Madeline Latimore in the first game, Kantor fought back to win the next three games 11–7, 13–11, 11–1, ultimately defeating Latimore in four games.

Following Friday’s impressive start, Tufts faced No. 3 Amherst on Saturday in the quarterfinal round. The team used momentum from their win against Colby heading into their Amherst match.

“We were super energetic going in,” sophomore Natalie Bartlett said about the Amherst match. “We had just won our Colby match, so spirits were high.”

Despite many hard-fought individual matches, Tufts fell 7–2 to Amherst. Senior co-captain Claire Davidson and sophomore Diya Sanghi claimed individual wins over their opponents, playing in the first and fifth spots respectively for Tufts.

Davidson defeated Amherst first-year Daksha Pathak in a close four-game match. Davidson claimed the first two games 11–4 and 11–8 to take a commanding 2–0 lead heading into the third game. After falling 4–11 to Pathak in the third game, Davidson edged her opponent 11–9 in the fifth game to win the match. The two had faced off just two weeks prior in a Jan. 31 match at Amherst.

Sanghi claimed an impressive 11–5, 11–6, 11–8 win against Amherst junior Riddhi Sampat to record the second individual win for the Jumbos against the Mammoths. Sanghi also faced the same Amherst opponent on Jan. 31, losing to Sampat in five games, so Saturday’s match proved to be an exciting rematch.

Following their Amherst match, Tufts defeated seventh seed Wesleyan 8–1 on Saturday afternoon in a consolation match. The depth of the Jumbos’ ladder was on display again, with strong individual wins coming from both the top and bottom.

Windreich had another impressive win as she defeated Wesleyan senior Sofia Melian-Morse 11–4, 11–4, 11–2 in the seventh position.

Bartlett explained that confidence coming off of the close Amherst match helped the team overcome fatigue to defeat Wesleyan.

“I think we were all tired, but knew that we were the better team because of how well we played against Amherst,” Bartlett said. “We used that confidence to reassure ourselves that we have become a better team throughout the season and it really showed in our match.”

On Sunday, Tufts played their fourth and final match of the tournament against fourth seed Bates. In the fifth-place match, the Jumbos were bested by the Bobcats 6–3, giving them a sixth place finish in the tournament.

Playing in the third position, senior co-captain Catherine Shanahan bested Bates junior Katherine Manternach in four games. Leading 2–1 heading into the fourth game, Shanahan edged Manternach 11–9 to claim the match.

Sophomore Megan Chen played a resilient match in the fourth position as she defeated Bates junior Maeve O’Brien. Chen and O’Brien split the first two games leaving the score at 1–1. Chen decisively claimed the third and fourth games, 11–3, 11–5 to win the match.

In the seventh spot, Windreich also needed just four games to defeat her opponent, Bates first-year Victoria Haghighi. After dropping the first game 14–12, Windreich fought back, winning three games in a row to beat Haghighi.

This was the third consecutive year that Tufts has faced Bates in the NESCAC tournament fifth-place match. In 2018, the Bobcats edged the Jumbos 6–3, while in 2019, the Jumbos won 5–4.

“Bates is our number one rival, basically, because we always have really close matches with them,” Shanahan said. “We are right there with them. We just need to use the next weeks to really train and make sure we are on top of our game for when we probably are going to play them at Nationals.”

Tufts will host Brown University on Tuesday for their final home match of the season. Then, on Feb. 21, the team will travel to New Haven, Conn. for the CSA Team Championship tournament, hosted by Yale University.

“I think we’ll have a lot of second chances to beat teams that we were close with earlier in the season,” Bartlett said.

Shanahan expressed excitement over the prospect of facing close NESCAC opponents again in the CSA Team Championship tournament.

“I hope we get to play both [Amherst and Bates],” Shanahan said of the upcoming tournament. “It’s really good energy to be able to play our rivals and schools we have super close matches with. It makes us push ourselves a lot more than if we are playing people who are a lot better or worse than us. It’s nice to have that competition.”