Vassar Squash waves goodbye to strong senior squad

Sophomore Kelly Rissman winds up to smack the ball. Both the men and women’s team had tough days on the courts this weekend, yet their heart and drive made the seniors’ finale a successful one. Photo courtesy of Vassar Athletics
Sophomore Kelly Rissman winds up to smack the ball. Both the men and women’s team had tough days on the courts this weekend, yet their heart and drive made the seniors’ finale a successful one. Photo courtesy of Vassar Athletics
This weekend, the Squash teams each travelled to New Haven, Conn. to compete in their respective postseason brackets at the Collegiate Squash Association Championships. Friday’s opening round action saw Vassar Women’s Squash set for a rematch with Wesleyan, a team to which they had conceded a 9-0 defeat in their last match of the regular season. The result was much the same as Vassar was downed by Wesleyan in the first round of D Flight competition. Men’s Squash was forced to reshuffle and adjust their lineup to cope with various illnesses as they began competition on Friday. Despite the fluctuation in lineup, the deciding margin between Penn State and Vassar was slim, as the Men’s contingent dropped their first-round matchup 5-4 to Penn State University.
The following day’s matches proved more successful, as the Vassar Women rebounded in their first consolation match to best Boston College 5-4. The matchup was competitive all up and down the lineup, as seven of the nine matches went longer than three sets. The closest match was at No. 5 Singles, between sophomore Cherylann Mucciolo and BC’s Grace Tregidgo, a match that Mucciolo ultimately pulled out in the fifth by a score of 11-8. The men’s and women’s results mirrored each other again in the second day of CSA Championships as the Brewer Men doubled up University of Notre Dame 6-3. Vassar relied on a strong showing from junior Vincent Mencotti as he claimed an efficient victory at No. 1 Singles. The Brewers dropped the No. 2-4 Singles positions but got the job done at the bottom of the lineup, sweeping No. 5-9 to earn a consolation-round victory and keep their tournament performance alive.
On the third day, both teams’ seasons came to a close with losses in their respective Consolation Bracket Finals. The men’s squad fell in competitive fashion to Davidson 6-3, while the women’s side experienced a similar result, coming up short against Mount Holyoke by a scoreline of 7-2. The men certainly did not have the season they would have liked, finishing with an overall record of only 2-15, after taking the H Flight at last year’s CSA Championships. The women’s team just missed out on back-to-back .500 seasons, closing out proceedings this year with a 7-9 tally. Still, there was much to take from the day.
The end of this squash season brought an end to the athletic careers of several Vassar student-athletes, as men’s seniors Tim Boycott, Juan Fernandez, Michael Iselin, Ben Kurchin and Timothy Veit suited up for the last time. The men’s squash seniors played an integral part for the Brewers at Nationals, as they all started, competed hard and picked up valuable wins for the men’s side. Veit spoke towards his team’s performance on the day, as well as his experience overall with the team: “Despite this resulting [in] a record that was not what we had hoped, everyone gave it their all in each match and we ended the season with heart. This effort has always been present on the team…I consider myself very lucky to have experienced collegiate squash alongside wonderful teammates.”
Sunday was also the last time that women’s seniors Parisa Halaji and Steph Zhu would don Vassar’s burgundy and gray. The significance of the seniors’ last time either being on the court or cheering on their teammates from the stands wasn’t lost amidst the competition. “Nationals reminded us how much we’ll miss our seniors next year,” reflected Women’s No. 1 Singles player and sophomore Hannah Nice [Full Disclosure: Hannah Nice is the Assistant Social Media editor for the Miscellany News] who picked up a pair of hard-fought wins in New Haven.
Though this weekend’s CSA Championships marked the last time several members of both contingents would step onto a collegiate squash court, it also provided signs of good things to come in the future. Nationals marked the first time that some Squash team members, namely freshman Isaac Stuart and sophomore rookie squash player Alex Riccio, occupied starting positions. Being inserted into the starting lineup in such a high-stakes context could naturally create some extra stress, or so one might think. “I felt the pressure a little at the end of sets, but in the end I felt I dealt with it well and played my best when it counted the most,” assessed Riccio, who got his first two starts at No. 9 the previous week and performed well, going 2-1 in tournament competition at the No. 8 spot.

Though their seasons may not have ended with the results they would have liked, the men’s and women’s sides can walk away with definite pride in the way that they performed, competed and supported each other. “[The CSA Championships] showed we were pretty equally matched with most of our opponents [and] how support- ive the men’s and women’s teams are of each other,” said Nice.
The Brewers will return several strong performers, in hopes that they replicate their performances from this past season. Women’s No. 1 Nice was thoroughly impressive, ending her sophomore season with a barely-blemished win-loss record of 12-4. Freshman and Women’s Singles No. 2 Fiona Agger was not too far off the pace, as she posted a 10-6 tally in her first season. Mencotti, who led the team in wins this season with 6 victories, will be back next year, looking to lead his squad to a more successful 2016-2017 campaign.

The 2016 CSA Championships gave Coach Parker a small sample of the potential of some of her less-experienced players, and provided a stage for those already established as stalwart members of the starting lineup to showcase their talent and the fruits of their hard work and dedication throughout the season.

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