This weekend, the Vassar men’s and women’s squash teams competed in their second round of matches of the season. Coming off a sweep against Fordham, Siena and Mount Holyoke the week before, both teams used that momentum to propel them toward more victory.
The men’s team traveled to Annandale on the Hudson to compete against Lafayette College and Swarthmore College, while the women’s team trekked up to Hamilton, NY to face off against William Smith and Colgate University.
The men started off the season on the right foot. Coming off two 7-2 victories against Siena and Fordham at home, the team was able to keep the energy alive and defeat Lafayette 7-2 and Swarthmore 6-3 on the road.
Meanwhile, the women’s team, now 3-1, fell to William Smith 0-9 in their first match but was able to turn things around against Colgate and defeated them 9-0.
This victories have been driven by the leadership of first year interim head coach David Ames. A Bard College graduate, Ames spent 20 years coaching there after he finished up his squash career.
Ames is proud of the way that the team has come together in the first few weeks of the season.“The team is looking great so far. We have a mixture of players; some played prior to attending Vassar and some did not,” Coach Ames noted. “The experienced players are doing a wonderful job of further improving their skills, while the newer players are focusing on improving the fundamentals.”
Coach Ames made special notice of the upperclassmen who have stepped up to ensure a smooth transition from the previous season to the current one. He mentioned, “Our captains Vince, Richard, Sam, Hannah, Isabelle and Carly have taken a very active role both with the team and in assisting my transition as the new coach.”
Senior captain Carly Scher made sure to put the team chemistry first when preparing for the season; it has paid off thus far.
“The first few weeks of the season, we focused on the team aspect of squash,” Scher noted. “Basically, for many of our freshmen, it was their first time playing team squash, so making sure that everyone felt comfortable reffing and marking games, supporting/cheering each other on and being able to analyze game play and give useful tips to players in between games.”
This knowledge of the game and support for one another is why the team has been able to get off to such a great start.
All the while, fellow senior captain Isabelle Bertram has emphasized the idea that in order to be a successful team, one person’s win is never any more important than another person’s win since each win benefits the team as a whole. So far, Bertram is very proud of the way the team handled themselves in such tight matches.
“We demonstrated great sportsmanship on and off the court against a tough opponent with an abrasive attitude that shook up our mental game,” Bertram elaborated. “Squash is as much a physical sport as it is a mental sport and yesterday, in the midst of several let and stroke calls, Vassar players demonstrated a poised and mature demeanor when reacting to calls made against us.”
The three captains on the women’s team have proven to be great leaders so far this season and can be seen as a main reason why the team has been able to start off so well.
Freshman Sydney Nemphos shared, “As cliché as it sounds, all three of our captains have been great leaders so far this season. Hannah, Carly and Isabelle have done a great job of making all the freshmen feel welcomed and including us! They keep us motivated and focused during practice and are always watching, cheering us on and giving good advice in between games.”
Holding the reins of the men’s team, senior captain Vincent Mencotti has also proved to be great asset to the Brewers. Mencotti shared his positive thoughts on the year thus far, recongizing the freshmen’s contribution to the squad’s undefeated start through their high level of play. Mencotti explained, “The team gained a lot of strength at the top of our roster with Viral Nadkarni coming in at No. 2 and Anti Khosla coming in at No. 3/4 (both freshman) to fill in after me at No. 1.”
Mencotti was elated that the team was able to knock off Swarthmore this past weekend. “Swarthmore has been ranked higher than us for at least four or five years, so it was great to take them down,” he stated. He also explained that everyone played well across the board and no one match was more important than the next.
To help continue their season, Mencotti is focusing on staying confident. “I think we realized that we can win a lot of matches this year that we may not have been able to in previous years and that we could beat a lot of teams that we also couldn’t before,” he mentioned. In order to achieve this, Mencotti wants to ensure that the team continues to practice with intensity, stays focused and keeps the energy levels high at practice.
In addition to the team captains, Coach Ames was very satisfied with the teams’ season openings. He was especially happy with the two matches against Lafayette and Swarthmore and the way that certain members of the team stepped up and were able to secure wins for the Brewers. He specifically notes, “Freshman Viraj Nadkarni, playing No. 2, continued his unbeaten streak as did Richard Bryenton, Lucas Fifer, Caden Gruber, Alex Riccio and Isaac Stuart.”
One of the matches against Lafayette was a nail biter, a come-from-behind win from sophomore Isaac Stuart who, as Ames described, “Really stepped up and won a tremendously hard fought battle versus Peter Torrenti from Lafayette after being down two games to zero!”
Regardless of the squad’s impressive records, the Brewers have to continue improving for talented compeition ahead. Coach Ames pointed out, “the matches ahead are going to be much tougher. Connecticut College and Haverford College are ranked much higher than the teams we have played so far.”
Both the women and men look to knock down these powerhouses in home matches on Nov. 19.