Men’s and women’s squash topped by powerhouse Harvard

A member of the Tufts women's squash team is pictured on Feb. 1, 2020. Nicole Garay / The Tufts Daily

Both Tufts men’s and women’s teams dropped all nine matches to the visiting Harvard Crimson in their home opener at the glistening Tufts Squash Courts on Tuesday. This is the first loss for both the men’s and women’s Jumbo teams, which are both now 3–1 on the season.

Boasting one of the most elite squash programs in the country, both Crimson teams are consistent national championship contenders. Before facing Tufts, the men’s team at Harvard collected its 36th consecutive win against its Cambridge counterpart, MIT. Even more impressive, the women’s team arrived in Medford having not lost a game since Jan. 11 of the 2014–15 season, tallying its 85th win in a row against the Jumbos. 

The Tufts men’s team entered the game with a cumulative record of 25–1, besting Hamilton, Hobart and Connecticut College in its previous matches. Knowing the significant gulf in skill between these teams and the Crimson, the mindset was to use Tuesday’s match as a measuring stick of Tufts squads against some of the best players in the world. 

Tufts senior Konrad LaDow said the team was “just focusing on our own squash games, not so much who we are playing. It’s a great opportunity to play world class opponents.”

Prior to playing the Jumbos, the Harvard men’s team had only dropped three games all year: two to MIT and one to the University of Rochester. Tufts was able to notch five games with first-year Kerwin Teh, junior co-captain Vivaan Jaikishan, senior co-captain Marco Rodriguez, junior Shloke Sahay and first-year Oliver Eielson all stealing a game off of their opponents. A young but deep team, this Jumbos squad differs from those in years past. 

“We have a few young guys that are playing at the top of our ladder and are really committed to it,” LaDow said. “We’re in the best spot we’ve ever been in terms of our depth.”

On the women’s side, the Jumbos were coming off a momentous 9–0 win against Connecticut College where not a single player dropped a game. The Crimson were also fresh off a dominant win, where they bested one of their Ivy League opponents, Brown, by a score of 9–0. In this match, Harvard did not drop a single game, and not a single Brown player was able to reach eight points in a game. 

For the Jumbos, first-year Nieve Monderer posted an 11–6 win in the third game of her match, and pushed the final game to a tiebreak, eventually being bested 12–10. Monderer’s win was the first game a Harvard women’s squash player had lost all season. First-year Aleezah Burhan also had a competitive match against the Crimson’s Charlotte Orcutt, ending with a match score of 6–11, 7–11, and 8–11. 

The Crimson’s long standing win streak is imposing, but even more impressive are the two women who are currently representing the U.S. at the Junior Pan American Games in Columbia. 

“It’s a really cool opportunity to play with some of the best players in the world. We had a lot to learn from it,” senior Natalie Bartlett said. 

The Jumbos certainly have plenty to learn, and with the majority of the team being comprised of first-years and sophomores, leadership will be integral to their success this season.

“Ten people on our team are in their first year of collegiate squash. All of the underclassmen are super talented so it’s been a pleasure,” Bartlett said. 

Both Tufts teams will host NESCAC foe Bates College on Friday, Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. in the Tufts Squash Center. The Bates men enter the match with a 0–3 record, while the women stand at 1–2 on the year.