Squash finishes third at Seven Sisters Championships

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Junior Diana Howland winds up for a hit during the Seven Sisters Championships last weekend. The women’s squash team was edged out 4-5 versus Mount Holyoke College and finished third on the day. Photo by Alec Ferretti

Third is the one with the treasure chest… right? This Saturday, VC Women’s Squash hosted the annual Seven Sisters tournament. It was the last home match of the season, as well as senior day. The squash courts were bustling with energy and excitement as the tournament brought in some big competition for the Brew­ers. Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke College and Smith College were in attendance.

Vassar looked sharp as they rolled into the event on a two-game winning streak after best­ing Boston University and Georgetown Uni­versity last weekend, winning all 18 of their matches and boosting their overall record to a solid 5-3. However, the defending champi­ons, Wellesley College, also arrived on a win­ning streak, winning their last five consecutive matches. Mount Holyoke College, who brought their game faces and their No. 1 player, soph­omore Brandy Williams, entered the tourna­ment with a tough 7-8 record. The lady Brew­ers have decisively beat Smith College for the last two years.

One of the major match ups was between Wellesley’s No. 1, sophomore Sarah Zhang and Vassar’s No. 1, sophomore Hannah Nice. The two faced off last year in a grueling five-set match with Nice eventually dropping the last set 8-11. Nice, who at the No. 1 spot holds an impressive individual record of 7-1. She beat the No. 1 players for Smith College and Mount Holyoke College at last year’s tournament.

The Brewers entered this year’s event with confidence. Head Coach Jane Parker com­mented, “[The team is] a little stronger than before…as [junior] Isabelle Bertram has re­turned from a semester studying abroad. [With Bertram taking] the number four position on the nine-woman lineup, this means that other members of the team will move down a posi­tion, thus giving the Brewers more strength in depth.” Last year Bertram finished her sopho­more season 8-9 overall and played at the two spot for the final eight games of the season. Se­nior captain Stephanie Zhu also said that the level of the team was higher due to the return of Bertram and that she felt “pretty confident” about the level of the team going into the event. The Brewers also gained depth with the addi­tion of freshman Fiona Agger who plays at the No. 2 spot and holds an individual record of 5-3.

VC had been hard at work in preparation for this tournament. Coach Parker detailed, “The team came back to campus early for a one week training camp that saw them practice twice a day and attend speed and agility circuits with [Strength and Conditioning] Coach Cameron Williams and [Rugby] Coach Tony Brown.” Se­nior Parisa Halaji commented, “[The] running and agility helps with quick turns for returning serves and…switching directions on the court.”

Zhu explained that the team has also been focusing on practicing basic skills that players may take for granted. She reasoned, “Having a very solid and consistent drive are what end up getting the most points and that it’s once you get into the fancy things that that’s when mis­takes happen and you’d rather be very solid and consistent.”

It isn’t a Seven Sister’s tournament without rivalries. Zhu commented, “We obviously have a lot of camaraderie because it is the Seven Sis­ters. They are all really highly skilled and I think it will be good practice. It is always really good to get good challenges in, regardless of whether or not you win or lose, because those are the games when you learn the most and what com­pels you to be a better player in the end.” Hilaji agreed, adding: “They are tough and we will go into it taking it seriously but also remembering that if we don’t win its not that bad as long as long as you give it your best.”

Coach Parker stated, “[The four teams] are all around a similar level. Wellesley, Mount Holyoke and Vassar seem to exchange posi­tions and have four to five year stints of being the leading team. Wellesley is currently the reigning champion. The results of this week­end are crucial to our final regular season rank­ing, which determines which division we will compete in at the College Squash Association Team Championships. Currently Wellesley is No. 22, Mount Holyoke No. 27 and Vassar No. 29. Smith’s ranking is not yet available but it will be below No. 30.”

Saturday, the Brewers showed their sprit and fight as they played hard and ended the day in third place. After a decisive 9-0 win against Smith College, the team lost to Wellesley Col­lege in a tough 0-9 match and Mount Holyoke College in a 4-5 nail biter.

Zhu was optimistic of her team’s perfor­mance, saying: “The team performed spec­tacularly! Everyone played to [her] maximum potential, especially during our closest match with Mount Holyoke. This was a very self re­flecting game, because we made a lot of goals before and after, so no matter what the result was, everyone made observations about their own games and learned what they do that is successful, as well as certain weaknesses that we will have to work on during practice.”

Zhu continued, “The team is looking forward to improving on these individual goals during our next match, which is unique for each per­son but ranges from being consistent with our lengths, and being ready back at the middle-T in order to tackle each shot. The team is look­ing to improve on these, but besides that, the team and our coach Jane Parker is very proud of the way we played and that we tried our best, and as long as we can take lessons from every game, no matter what the outcome is, every game can be considered a win!”

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