Women’s squash sweeps Seven Sisters, men struggle in LL

Sophmore Viraj Nadkarni hits a low shot in a match over the weekend at the Liberty League championships in Kenyon Hall. At first singles, Nadkarni was a key contributor for the Brewer team./ Courtesy of Sumiko Neary

This past weekend, the Vassar women’s squash team traveled to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, in order to participate in the annual Seven Sisters Championship tournament. Entering the weekend, the Brewers were impressively ranked 29th by the College Squash Association. As second seed, Vassar first competed against the Smith College Pioneers, the fourth seed. The women collectively dominated the competition, going undefeated in all nine matchups.

The team’s impressive adaptability allowed them to overpower the competition on the Pioneers’ own courts. “Everyone was extremely focused throughout the contest against Smith,” recalls senior captain Hannah Nice. “Each player was able to make great use of the courts’ depth, which worked especially well, since the ball appeared to die easily in the courts’ back corners.”

Advancing after their first win, the Brewers next took on the first seed, Mount Holyoke College. In this competition against the Lyons, the women were met with competitive opponents, ultimately being defeated 2-7.

Nice and fellow senior captain Emma Glickman were the only two women to secure a win for the Brewers in this matchup. Both individuals won their fierce matches in five games, attributing their successes to mental and physical perseverance.

“I played each point with the same level of focus and intensity,” explained Glickman. “Each point matters. By my fifth point, my opponent was mentally and physically drained, and I knew that the momentum had changed.”

Nice shared a similar mentality throughout her own five-game battle, noting, “By the fifth game, I was pretty tired. I think what got me through the match was sheer grit.”

While only Glickman and Nice secured close wins against their opponents, the remaining Brewers faced tough competition as well. Sophomore Sydney Nemphos, Vassar’s third player, played a particularly competitive match against her opponent, winning her first of four matches 13-11, and narrowly losing the next 12-10.

“My competition was a really great player,” she said. “To play her well, I really had to work to take control of the court. I’m definitely very happy with my match, even if I didn’t win.”

Exiting the Seven Sisters Championship with one win and one loss, the Brewers have more clear individual and team goals for their upcoming matches against Hamilton College and Colgate University. These games will carry a lot of weight for the Brewers, as they are the last games they will play before heading to national championships.

As a general personal goal, Nemphos tries to elevate her game from weekend to weekend. “My goal for our team’s upcoming matches is to keep improving my game, so that I’m playing my best squash for nationals,” she said.

Currently, the team has 13 wins on the season, closely rivaling on the school season record of 14 wins. With the matches against Hamilton and Colgate, the Brewers could potentially set a new school record. “Although these will be competitive matches, our team is hopeful, and will give our heart and soul on the court,” assured Glickman.

As the women split their matches at the Seven Sisters Championships, the men’s squash team hosted the 2018 Liberty League Championships at home. The players competed against Bard College and Hobart College on Saturday, and Saint Lawrence University and the University of Rochester on Sunday.

On the opening day of the championships, the men were defeated 0-9 by both Bard College and Hobart College. Vassar’s top three players battled throughout their matchups, but were overpowered in three games against both rival colleges.

The following day of competition opened against the University of Rochester. Sophomore captain Viraj Nadkarni played a competitive round of games against his opposition, trailing 6-11, 8-11, and 7-11 throughout.

“I knew this match would be extremely difficult,” Nadkarni said. “However, I played well against my opponent and had good rallies. While it was impossible to match his level of skill, I played a few good points throughout the match.”

First-year Mathieu Rizk also proved to be a fierce competitor during his games, narrowly losing his first round 10-12, then falling 3-11 and 4-11. Overall, the University of Rochester was able to secure the victory.

Following this match, Saint Lawrence swept the Brewers 9-0, earning the Liberty League Championship title for the fifth season in a row.

The Saints are currently ranked 4th in the entire country by U.S. Squash.

After battling against stiff competition in the Liberty League, the Brewer men will look to improve their play while travelling with the women’s team to play at Hamilton College this upcoming weekend.

“Our match against Colgate will be a good one, and one that we can win,” Nadkarni said. “Hamilton is an extremely good team, and while the match against them is tough, we are just hoping to play good squash.”

The Brewers will next be in action in Clinton, New York, to take on both Hamilton and Colgate University at 11:00 a.m.

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