Women’s squash brings home Kurtz Cup

Women’s squash rolled over Tufts, Bates and Cornell en route to the B-division title of the national championship held at Princeton this weekend. The Ephs dominated the Jumbos, the Bobcats and the Big Red 9-0, 9-0, 6-3, respectively.

“We showed everyone how tough we are and that we truly are a force to reckon with,” Arianna Kourides ’09 said. “Dropping only three matches all weekend makes a strong statement, and rarely do you see that at nationals.”

The team first took out Tufts in the quarterfinals of the Kurtz Cup. Each player won her match in just three games, while Toby Eyre ’10, Claire Hsu ’09 and Allison Rottkamp ’08 gave their players less than three points in their respective matchups.

The Ephs faced off against the Bobcats in the semifinals early on Saturday morning. Most of the Ephs, including Toby Eyre, co-captain Ashley Eyre ’08, Jennifer Coxe ’10, co-captain Catie Warner ’08, Caroline Henry ’10 and Rottkamp, won in a quick three games. Julia Reiser ’10 took a bit of time to warm up during her match. Losing her first game, Reiser came back and took out her opponent, Sophie Runquist, in the next three games. Kourides and Hsu both battled for the win to beat their adversaries in four games as well.

The players were thirsty for revenge preparing for their match against Cornell in the finals of the Kurtz Cup. Earlier in the season, the Ephs lost to the Big Red in a close 5-4 match, but they were able to come out on top on Sunday.

“Our Cornell match was one of the most exciting I’ve seen in my Williams career,” Kourides said. “Everyone played extremely well and fought down to the wire.”

Starting the match were Coxe, Henry and Reiser. While Henry was unable to gain control of the match and lost in three games, Reiser immediately took the offensive against Cornell’s Aliz Watson and won the first game. Watson rallied in the second game, only to be taken out in the next two thanks to Reiser’s smart playing. At the same time, Coxe and Alex Cornett fought for the third match of the final. Though Coxe initially lost by just two points in the first game, she quickly battled back to win the next two. Cornett stole back control of the game, taking the fourth and a 5-0 lead in the fifth. But Coxe refused to give up and came back in an impressive fight to win her match.

Ashley Eyre, Kourides and Rottkamp next struggled for the No. 2, No. 5 and No. 8 positions. The teams tied 2-2 after Ashley Eyre lost to Jenn Gemmell in four games, but the women quickly regained the lead thanks to Rottkamp’s decisive three-game win against Jen Chu. Kourides initially gave Annie Ritter the first two games and a strong lead in the third, but gradually wore down Ritter for a 3-2 win in one of her most outstanding matches of the season.

In the final three matches, Toby Eyre, Warner and Hsu battled with Rachel Wagner, Liza Stokes, and Izzy Spyrou, respectively. Once again, Eyre efficiently steamrolled her adversary in just three games. Hsu, on the other hand, struggled to close the match against Spyrou despite her two game lead, and she lost 3-2. Stokes grabbed the first and third games and Warner the second and fourth, but Warner finally took the fifth game, 9-6, for the win.

Head Coach Zafi Levy was particularly impressed with the upperclassmen’s playing. “I was very pleased to see the team come together when it really counts,” Levy said. “Our seniors played great all season long, but at the final they raised their level of play even higher.”

This win was particularly rewarding for the Ephs, who had been thwarted in a number of tight 5-4 matches, particularly those against Stanford, Dartmouth and Cornell. While the team was unable to make it to the A-division due to these losses, the players were still ready to shine at nationals.

“Before the weekend, it felt like a bit of a disappointment, losing three close matches 5-4, and being placed in the B-Division,” Rottkamp said.“However, everyone came together and refocused to make the best of our situation. We knew how rewarding it would feel to redeem ourselves against Cornell, and also how upsetting it would be if we didn’t. To end the season with three wins and such an outstanding overall team effort was great.”