Women’s squash proves depth of squad

After placing eighth at nationals two weeks ago, women’s squash climbed to even greater heights this weekend at the College Squash Association’s Individual Championships, hosted here on campus at the Simon Squash Center. Seven out of the team’s top nine players – the greatest number of Williams women ever invited to compete in the tournament – showcased their talent, competed against some of the best players in the nation and broke numerous school records along the way.

The country’s top players were divided into two separate tournament draws: the Ramsay Cup for the nation’s top 32 players and the Holleran Cup for the players in the B Draw.

This weekend, as the team’s No. 1 ranked player and only member to place into the Ramsay Cup, Toby Eyre ’10 cemented her national ranking as third in the country and became the highest-ranked player ever to compete for Williams. Eyre started the tournament off with an efficient three-game win against Cornell’s Lisa Stokes in the Round of 32 and then went on to take out Yale’s Alia Aziz with a quick 9-4, 10-8, 9-0 match. In the semi-finals, though, Eyre came up against stiff competition, falling to University of Pennsylvania’s Kristen Lange (ranked number two in the nation) in three games. Lange went on to lose to Trinity’s Nour Bahgat 9-5, 9-4, 4-9, 9-7 in the finals of the Ramsay Cup.

“It is an honor to host the best of the collegiate players in Williamstown,” Head Coach Zafi Levy said. “The level of squash was amazing, and having one of the Williams players, Toby Eyre, competing for a national title made the tournament so much more exciting for our community.”

Jennifer Coxe ’10, who went into the tournament seeded fourth in the B Draw, took out some tough competition this weekend to become the first Williams player to ever win the Holleran Cup. After receiving a bye in the Round of 64, Coxe defeated Mount Holyoke’s Shara Robertson in three games in the Round of 32. She then fought against Trinity’s Andrea Echeverria in the tournament’s quarterfinals, rallying after losing her first game 1-9 to win the match in four games. In the semi-finals, Coxe took out another Trinity player – the draw’s number one seed, Robyn Williams – in just three games. She then beat Yale’s Lexi Van Arkle 10-8, 9-6, 0-9, 9-2 to win the tournament.

Williams’ No. 3 player, Courtney Bogle ’12, started off the weekend with a strong three-game win in the Holleran Draw’s Round of 32 against Amherst’s top competitor, Allie Dalglish. Bogle was then knocked out of the main draw by Van Arkle, whom Coxe eventually defeated in the finals. Bogle fought against the number three seed of the third consolation draw, Dartmouth’s Madeline Lurio, whom she lost to in three.

Co-captain and team No. 4 Arianna Kourides ’09 fell to Brown’s Charlotte Steel in the Round of 16 of the Holleran Cup. Kourides then went to quarterfinals of the third consolations, where she took out teammate Caroline Henry ’10, who had lost in the Round of 16, in three games. In the semifinals of the third consolations, Bowdoin’s Lauren Gesswein handed Kourides a defeat.

Both Kavitha Mannava ’11 and Julia Reiser ’10 faced difficult players in their first matches of the Holleran Cup, losing to their opponents in four and five games, respectively. After receiving byes in the first round of the Consolation, Mannava and Reiser fought each other in an intense five game match, which Mannava won 9-3, 9-5, 3-9, 2-9, 9-1. Mannava was then defeated by Biz Gillespie in three games in the Consolation’s quarterfinals.

“The team came out with such fire,” Kourides said. “Everyone worked hard and played well, and it was great to watch everyone go out with a fight. We were the underdogs in most cases and many of us made it to the semi-final or final rounds of our respective draws, demonstrating the talent and depth on our team.”

Levy also said, “I am very happy with the way our players performed this weekend. Without exception, all of our players improved on their pre-tournament ranking.”

The team’s top three competitors also received the honor of being placed on the All NESCAC First Team, making Williams the only college next to Trinity to send three players to the All NESCAC squad. Bogle, ranked third at Williams, now joins Eyre and Coxe on the All NESCAC First Team.

The Ephs now finish the 2008-2009 season with a 12-10 record and the Little Three title. In addition, the women were runners-up in the NESCAC Championship and are back in the A Division of women’s squash.