Sports

After two wins, women’s squash takes third place in the Kurtz Cup

Bruno picked up wins against Bates and Williams and lost to ultimate tournament winner George Washington

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, February 24, 2014

After losing in a 5-4 upset to George Washington University Saturday, Bruno bounced back the next day, edging Bates College in another 5-4 matchup to secure third place in the College Squash Association’s B Division Tournament. The team finished the season 13-8.

The women’s squash team traveled to Princeton, N.J. to play in the College Squash Association Team Championships Friday. Bruno’s No. 10 national ranking earned it the tournament’s second seed. The Bears defeated No. 15 Williams College before falling in the semifinals to No. 11 George Washington University, the eventual Kurtz Cup champion. In the consolation match, the Bears triumphed over No. 12 Bates College, to earn third place overall.

Coming off a sweep of Williams a week earlier, the Bears were excited to discover they would be facing the Ephs again. “We knew it was going to be harder playing them at nationals since there were neutral courts,” said Alexandra White ’15.

The Ephs immediately appeared determined to improve upon their previous result, taking two of the three matches in the first round. Down 2-1, the Bears mustered a strong response in the second trio of matches with wins from Sarah Domenick ’14, Mina Shakarshy ’15 and Isabel Scherl ’17, who collectively lost just one game. Brown continued to roll through Williams, winning its last three matches to make the final score 7-2.

“I think it was definitely one of those matches where we knew the courts were pretty hot and the whole facility was warm. … We just wanted to keep the points of the matches going for as long as possible,” White said. “We knew that we had the fitness and a deep game to be able to beat them in a longer style match.”

A “warm” facility lends itself to longer rallies, because balls bounce more, giving the players more time to track down shots.

“We knew that it was just a normal match,” White said. “If we played well we would get the win. We knew we definitely had the game to do it.”

Next, the Bears took on George Washington. In their last matchup, at the onset of the winter season, Brown defeated the Colonials 6-3 with the bottom six spots of the lineup carrying the team.

This time around the Colonials, ranked one spot behind the Bears, pulled off the upset, winning 5-4. “They were coming out gunning for us,” White said. “They were really fired up.” Similar to their first round against Williams, the Bears lost two of the three matches from the first group.

“They were pretty aggressive with their style of play, and they were definitely very focused,” White said. But the George Washington squad was too strong, and Bruno was unable to rebound the way it did against Williams.

The team’s outcome came down to the last two matches on court. One of these featured Katherine Elliott-Moskwa ’15 who pulled off a crucial five-game victory after dropping the first two. “I changed up my game plan in terms of hitting the ball and started to run for the ball more,” Elliott-Moskwa said, “In the first game I was kind of asleep on court.”

Despite the loss, White said she thought the team played well.“You win some, you lose some,” she said.

On the last day of the tournament Bruno was set to play Bates for third place overall. “This time we came off really wanting to win because we really, really wanted to get third,” Elliott-Moskwa said.

Earlier in the season the Bears pulled off a thrilling win over the Bobcats 5-4. This match was no different with Brown emerging victorious by the same one-match margin. Once again, Bates’ top players proved to be all business by sweeping Brown’s one and two spots. All the other matches were extraordinarily close with each one going into extended play.

White attributes the win to strong performances from the first group of matches on court. The first three matches all went to five sets. Brown was able to claim two of the three crucial, momentum-driving points. “Each of the individual matches were going to be close, but we knew that we were starting out with an advantage,” White said.

The women finished the season strong with their off-court achievements as well. At Princeton, Bruno captured the Chaffee Award, a national award given in honor of former Williams College tennis coach Clarence Chaffee ’24. Teams are selected based on their “sportsmanship, teamwork, character, friendliness, work ethic and improvement,” according to the College Squash Association’s website. At the national tournament, coaches decide on which team they feel best represents these qualities.

Brown also collectively had the most scholar athletes of any CSA team — with seven players earning honors — according to some team members.

Next year, the Bears look forward to more competitive play, with three new recruits joining the current squad. The team is looking to improve upon this season’s results to earn a spot in the Howard Cup (A Division) next year, Elliot-Moskwa said. She named Dartmouth, Columbia, Stanford and George Washington as the team’s “biggest challenges” for next year.

Dori Rahbar ’14, a former Herald contributing writer, is the lone Bear competing in the CSA Individual Championship next weekend. She has been invited to the tournament each of her four years but has only competed in 2011 and 2012. “It’s a different feeling, because it’s not a team environment. You’re just playing for yourself,” Rahbar said. “It’s always a fun tournament. You get to watch the best squash.”

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