Women’s squash ends season with a seventh place finish at Howe Cup

This weekend, women’s squash traveled to Yale University where they placed seventh in the Howe Cup, the team nationals of women’s squash. Twenty-nine schools competed in four divisions of the tournament over the course of the weekend. This year was the second that Williams competed in the tournament’s top division comprised of the eight highest-ranked schools at the end of the season – six Ivies, Williams and Trinity.

Friday started off with a tough match against third-ranked Harvard, who beat the Lady Ephs 9-0. But the match scores were considerably closer than those of the dual-meet against Harvard at the beginning of the season. Two players, co-captain Whitney Hallagan ’03 and Jaye Gregory ’06, won games off of Harvard at the number eight and number three positions, respectively.

Harvard’s hard, fast shots were good practice for Williams to get prepped for what would be a tough match against Princeton on Saturday. Two weeks ago, the Lady Ephs had a 5-4 win over Princeton – the first time in team history that Williams has defeated Princeton. The Lady Ephs went into this weekend’s match psyched and ready to repeat their previous win. Each player played well and fought hard, yet unfortunately, Princeton was ready to avenge their loss and eked out a close 5-4 win over the Lady Ephs to win back their number six ranking. In Williams’ four tally came wins from Hallagan, number seven Kate Neal ’04, number nine Lizzie Reifenheiser ’06 and Gregory who upset Princeton’s Franny McKay ’05 after losing to her in their previous match.

“Although Princeton was a disappointing loss, I think the weekend was an overall success,” Hallagan said. “Everyone raised her level of play and competed at the top of her ability. I think we really turned some heads with how much we have improved and how well we are playing.”

After Saturday’s loss, Williams was ready to end well with their match against Brown to determine the number seven/eight spot. The same weekend as their historic win over Princeton, Williams defeated Brown 7-2. However, the Brown team’s roster had been weakened by a sick number three player who could not make the match. This weekend, the Lady Ephs were ready to take on Brown’s full lineup.

Williams knew they had to step up the level of play and could not anticipate such a decisive victory as in the first match. Gregory, dependable and focused as always, was the first off of the court with a decisive victory at number three. Then things got a bit tense as the number six, eight and nine went into their fifth games. But in the end, Williams won 5-4 over Brown with wins by Clare Whipple ’05, Gregory, Neal, Hallagan and Reifenheiser. Not mentioned in this tally is the win by number 10 Holly Houghton ’06 who was the last match of the entire tournament, and provided a strong finish to the Lady Ephs’ squash season.

“I am extremely proud of our team, and happy to end the season on such a positive note,” Hallagan said, who had an extremely impressive performance in the last tournament of her career, posting wins over tough opponents from both Princeton and Brown, as well as winning a game off of Harvard.

Fellow co-captain Adrienne Ellman ’03 faced heavy competition at the number one position. Her fine play and sportsmanship throughout the season earned her a nomination for the Richey Award – awarded by collegiate coaches and players to a top player who exemplifies such attributes.

The team left the tournament pleased with their weekend’s performance, yet sad that the season was ending.

“What a great way to finish the season!” Head Coach Zafi Levy ’01 said. “The team played fantastically on Friday against Harvard, pushing the nation’s number three in a close battle in each of the 10 matches. On Saturday, we were a few points away from beating Princeton for the second time in two weeks. Despite the disappointing result, I was so proud of the way we competed against a team who had won the national championship just two years ago. The win against Brown on Sunday solidified the mental and physical strength of our players when beating the really determined Brown team.”

For a few players, the squash season will continue with the individual tournament in two weeks. Much thanks goes out from the team to coaches Sarah Marks ’00 and Levy, as well as captains Ellman and Hallagan for leadership in a successful and fun season both on and off the court.