Women’s squash finishes season ranked No. 12, sets sights on top ten ranking for next season

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

Dropping its last contest of the season against well-renowned Brown University by only one match, Tufts women’s squash challenged teams that were previously a tier or two above Tufts, finishing the 2021–22 season as the second highest nationally ranked NESCAC team at No. 12. While infiltrating the top ten may have been a pipe dream for this program a few years ago, authentic leadership and outstanding newcomers have put this goal on the horizon.

Tufts’ match against Brown was the last of three matches the women’s squash team played at Harvard University as part of the Collegiate Squash Association’s Team Championships. Being nationally ranked within places nine to 16, the Jumbos were situated in the B-pool, with a mix of highly regarded NESCAC and Ivy League opponents. 

The team’s quarterfinal match was against Williams College, a team they had previously beaten 7–2 in the regular season and 5–4 in NESCAC tournament semifinals. The Ephs again lost this third meeting, dropping the match 6–3. Among those six victorious Jumbos was junior Isabella Schneider, who has been a cornerstone for this program’s rapid improvement. 

“We were beating teams that my freshman year we barely had a chance against,” Schneider said. 

Williams College was one of those teams. The Jumbos were blanked 9–0 by the Ephs in their regular season matchup in 2020. 

Tufts’ next match of the tournament was played against the No. 1 seed, Cornell University. Tufts was beaten 8–1, with Schneider’s being the Jumbos’ sole victor, picking up a five-set victory in the fifth position. 

“Beating the Cornell player this weekend, for me … that was a huge highlight,” Schneider, who won seven of her nine matches on the year, said. 

After the Cornell match, Tufts played a consolation match against Brown, a team they had lost to in January seven matches to two. This matchup was more tightly contested, with two Jumbos coming away with victories in five sets. While the final count was 5–4 to the Brown Bears, the Jumbos had a much better showing on this occasion, compared to their previous meeting.

In reflecting on what differentiated this team from past renditions, Schneider affirmed that leadership was a key factor. 

“Megan [Chen] and Diya [Sanghi], who are the captains, are amazing,” Schneider said. “They’re so passionate about the sport and they care so much about the team and us … I knew they were great captains because they were great people, but they really showed it this year.”

As the only junior on the team, Schneider will be taking on a leadership role of her own in the 2022–23 season. Anticipating a stellar incoming class of recruits, the expectations for this program may be the highest they have ever been. 

While the collective season is over, the National Collegiate Individual Championships will take place from March 4 to March 6.  An all-senior crew of Diya Sanghi and Megan Chen, along with Marco Rodriguez and Dillon O’Shea, will compete in the doubles draw.