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Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

Despite Low Profile, Squash Teams Prove That They Do Exist

Author: Alison Hertel Associate Editor

The women's squash is off to a strong start with three new first-years and three returning senior players. Last year's team finished well at 10 games won, four lost in their league, the "B" flight, that includes such rivals as Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin and Williams. But this year the team has even higher hopes. Co-captains Sarah Herrup '02.5 and Ellie Toan '02 state, "We're a strong team this year, we've had a great pre-season, and we're determined to see the team do better than we have ever done."

The three new first-years are sure to help them meet this goal. Lauren Smith comes from a prominent club in Brooklyn, N.Y., " Playing in college is very different from the junior circuits and I'm looking forward to the collegiate competition." Holly Haertel from Greenwich, Ct., comes from a strong team at Greenwich Academy. Beth Seeley, from Wayland, Mass., joins the Middlebury team from another prestigious squash school, Middlesex Academy. Coach Dave Saward gladly welcomes the new freshman, and states, "The three new players have a lot of experience and will add new depth to the team."

Returning from abroad are seniors Marion Min and the Co-Captains Sarah Herrup and Ellie Toan. Saward says, "We initially thought we'd have more players than knew what to do with," but several players have since left the team. Juniors Eliza Funston and Lisa Pilkington will be leaving for abroad for January and spring semesters. However, the team is unperturbed by the loss in numbers, Saward says, " We will be thin in numbers, but deep in terms of quality…This year's team will be one of the deeper teams we've ever had."

This year the team will be traveling to many different tournaments including Wesleyan, Williams, Smith and Mount Holyoke, as well as the Howe Cup at Yale University mid-February. Each tournament the team plays four schools. Several matches against individual schools are to be scheduled for January. The first tournament is the last weekend of November at Wesleyan.

The team is enthusiastic to begin. Haertel says, "These past couple weeks have been really fun getting to know the girls on the team and I'm excited for the tournaments to begin." With the regular season underway, women's squash has strong, motivated players who are confident of a successful season.

Now to the Men. And I bet you didn't know that Middlebury has a men's squash club? You're not alone. The men's squash club did not formally exist until this year. Though there was an informal, student-run club last year, this year is the first year that the club has a coach and plans to compete.

Tennis Coach Dave Schwarz asked some of his players if they would be interested in playing squash in the off-season, they said yes and the men's squash club was born. Schwarz found other players through word of mouth and going to the courts and finding guys that were casually playing. Steve Washburn '02 said, "Being a senior I knew quite a few guys who'd been involved [in squash] in high school, and I heard that Schwarz was starting a club through friends."

Schwarz is hoping that the club will become varsity within the next couple of years.

Practice started last week with about 18 players. Since then the numbers have dropped a little. Casper Reske-Nielsen '02 said, "We're still weeding out some people who think it's too much of a time commitment." The team practices on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings for an hour and a half. Washburn said, "Practice has been going great."

There is a range of ability in the club, from experienced players with competitive backgrounds to players that until now have played squash fairly casually. However, Reske-Nielsen said, "I've been very surprised at the level of play. I think we have a chance to win some matches."

On Wednesday, Nov. 28 the team will have what Reske-Nielsen described as a "friendly match" against a tough Williams team. Reske-Nielsen said that he's eager to see how the club will stack up against the highly regarded Williams team.