This past weekend, after competing in the College Squash Association (CSA) Championships in Lawrenceville, NJ, the women’s squash team concluded its 2016-2017 season. At the championships, the Brewers went 1-2 as they faced Mount Holyoke College (2-7), Bucknell University (5-4) and Connecticut College (3-6).
Interim Head Coach David Ames explained, “The CSA Nationals is open to any team that plays 10 matches against at least six different teams. It is broken down into groups of eight teams who play for rankings within that bracket. Vassar ended up No. 6 in our bracket.”
Junior captain Hannah Nice [Full Disclosure: Nice is the Assistant Social Media Editor of The Miscellany News] added, “This weekend was jam-packed with squash, but in the best way possible. There are 39 different women’s teams playing over the course of three days, and each team is guaranteed three matches. The results of the tournament help determine the final national rankings of all of the teams. Thus, the stakes are a little higher and the energy at the courts is revved up a few notches, as compared to that of a typical tournament.”
The weekend began with a late afternoon match against Mount Holyoke, a team that beat the Brewers 1-8 two weeks prior at the Seven Sisters Championships in South Hadley, MA. This time around, however, the Brewers chalked up one more win for a final score of 2-7 against the Lyons.
Nice defeated Mount Holyoke’s No. 1 Brandy Williamson for the second time this season. Two weekends ago Nice was able to win in three sets, while this past weekend Williamson was able to hold her off for an extra set as the scores were 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6. Meanwhile, senior Diana Howland defeated her opponent Tanishka Sachidanand in the No. 7 spot with scores of 11-7, 11-8, 11-5.
Freshmen Sydney Nemphos and Samantha Henderson took their opponents to four and five sets respectively, before ultimately taking the loss. Five other Brewers who competed against Mount Holyoke fell to their opponents in just three sets.
Vassar’s most exciting match of the weekend came against the Bucknell University Bison. The Brewers defeated Bucknell in a back-and-forth nail baiter with a final score of 5-4.
Nice chalked up her second win as she defeated Bucknell’s No. 1 in three straight sets. Howland also had a repeat performance of the day before, winning her second match of the tournament, this time pulling out a win in the fifth set.
Senior Isabelle Bertram, sophomore Julia Pollak and Nemphos rounded out Vassar’s wins in the match. Pollak, who represents Vassar’s ninth spot, cleanly swept her opponent in only three sets. Adding another victory, No. 3 Bertram defeated her opponent, Anna Hart, in five sets with scores of 5-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8, 12-10.
“Individually the best part about this weekend was playing some great squash. My favorite game was against the Bucknell opponent as it went to five games and really challenged the limits of my fitness and my ability to compete under pressure, and ultimately I was able to pull through and win the match,” reflected Bertram.
Prior to Nemphos’ match, the score was tied 4-4, and her game would decide whether the Brewers would win or lose the game. Despite only being a freshman, Vassar’s No. 4 rose to the challenge and beat her opponent in four sets with scores of 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6.
Nemphos reflected, “Going into my last game, I found out we were tied 4-4, so I just tried to take a deep breath before every point and focus on playing my game, and not get in my head if I lost a point.”
The 5-4 win against Bucknell proved to be historic as it tallied the 11th victory for VC, matching the program’s record for most wins in a season.
The Brewers season culminated with a 3-6 loss against Connecticut College. Earlier in the season on Nov. 19 Vassar defeated Connecticut College by the same score.
Nice rounded out the weekend with a perfect record after winning her third match of the tournament against Mawa Ballo 11-1, 11-7, 11-7. “For me, it’s all about being as present as possible. I work really hard at practice, but ultimately, if I’m not mentally ready to compete on a match day, all of my hard work could be thrown out the door. Thus, this weekend especially, I had to make sure I felt calm, yet confident, as I stepped onto the court, if I wanted to excel against my opponents,” Nice commented.
Fittingly, for the top player on the team, Nice finished with the highest overall record, only dropping one match to her 15 wins.
Bertram and Pilkington were also able to record wins against an improved Connecticut College team. After defeating her opponent, Bucknell’s No. 6 Jacqueline Chu, in four sets with scores of 11- 6, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, Pilkington ended the season with the second highest overall record on the team. The freshman ended her rookie campaign with 13 wins and only four losses to her name.
Bertram’s win was especially significant in that she ended her college squash career on a high note. In just three close sets, No. 3 Bertram knocked off Davis Lemay with scores of 11-9, 11-8, 11-7.
Betram smiled upon the milestone stating, “The Conn College opponent was very tough, I was a bit nervous as it was the last squash game of my college career, but I stayed calm and played my game and ultimately beat her in 3 games.”
Bertram’s senior year ended with an 11-6 record.
Seniors Carly Scher and Howland rounded out their careers with final records of 9-8 and 12-4 respectively. Impressively, holding the No. 4 spot throughout the season, Nemphos chalked up 12 wins and only five losses in her freshman season.
After multiple hard-fought battles, Coach Ames commented, “This weekend was a great experience. Emotions ran very high, but in the end all went well. Everyone on the team gave it their all and their play exceeded my expectations. They played with heart and integrity despite much controversy and strife from some of the opposing players.”
Reflecting on his first season with Vassar squash, Coach Ames stated, “My position is as Interim Coach and I sincerely hope to be here next year. It has been a wonderful season, I could not ask for a better team. Everyone improved tremendously and I am very proud of all of my players.”