Women’s squash sets sights on ‘A’ division

As winter approaches, one of Williams’ most celebrated teams will take to the courts. Women’s squash, one of only four Williams teams who face Div. I competition, is gearing up to begin its season with a Sunday doubleheader against Stanford and Harvard.

Coming off of its 13th consecutive Little Three victory and an eighth-place rank in the College Squash Association comparison at the end of last season, the women are confident in their ability to compete this season despite the loss of four strong players, including four-time All-American Toby Eyre ’10 and Jennifer Coxe ’10. According to captain Kavitha Mannava ’11, the loss of Eyre and Coxe, who were ranked in the top three and top 25 in the nation, respectively, “is going to have a big impact on our team.”

Returning for this season are five of last year’s top nine competitors, including two-time All-NESCAC player Courtney Bogle ’12. Allison Rubin ’13 and Laura Henry ’13 will also rejoin the team following successful performances at last year’s National Individual Championships that catapulted their rankings more than 50 spots each.

According to Head Coach Zafi Levy, “Bogle will play No. 1 this year and will be pushed hard by Henry and Rubin.” According to Mannava, these three “will make a strong top of our ladder this season.” Mannava, the only senior on the team, will compete with Hannah Kaemmer ’13 and Carolyn Kaemmer ’12 for the two remaining spots in the top five.

Four rookies will join the relatively young team this year. Mannava expects two in particular, Gibbs Cullen ’14 and Alyssa Northrop ’14, to contribute to the lineup. “They are both very good, experienced players, and they will be able to compete very well at the collegiate squash level,” Mannava said. Levy expects Northrop to contest a top five spot while Cullen, Eliana Saltzman ’12, Hollis Miller ’13 and Mia Fry ’13 compete for the remaining spots in the top 10. Kathleen Elkins ’14 and Lacey Hankin ’14 round out the rookies.

The team is heading into its season ranked ninth in the National Team rankings following what Mannava describes as “an enormously successful preseason.” Despite the loss of last year’s key players to graduation, Levy believes that this year’s group has enormous potential. “We have a very young and talented team,” he said. “Over the last two weeks since we started to train we have seen massive improvement.”

Given the team’s prestigious history, it comes as no surprise that the Ephs have their sights set on a berth in the ‘A’ division at Nationals, which pits the top eight teams in the country against each other. According to Levy, however, the team is not quite there yet: “[We] have lots of potential, but we will need to get physically and mentally stronger in order to compete for the top eight spots.” Considering the team’s focus on rebuilding and planning ahead for further years this season, Levy says that it is more likely that the team will take control of the top of the ‘B’ division, likely competing with Brown, Dartmouth, Bates and Middlebury.

The women will kick off their season on Sunday, facing Stanford at 12:30 p.m. before challenging reigning national champion Harvard at 2:30 p.m.

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