The men's and women's squash teams are looking forward to a strong season, despite a number of players studying abroad this semester. But all of the players abroad will return for the second, tougher half of the season in January and February.
All five juniors on the women's squad have gone to study elsewhere for a semester, but the team's first-years will step up to fill the upperclassmen's shoes.
"I'm very excited for the women's season. I'm just hoping everyone stays healthy," said Head Coach Stuart leGassick.
"We'll have to do some rebonding of the team," said women's co-captain Brooke Dalury '12. She said she does not feel the missing junior class will affect the team's performance — the players abroad have continued playing squash and kept in touch with the team back at Brown.
Even without a chunk of the squad around, "we've had a high-energy start to the season," Dalury said.
The women's team's main goal for the season is to finally break into the top eight in the College Squash Association rankings. In the past few years, the squad has been ranked ninth and won the Kurtz Cup, the trophy that teams ranked 9-16 compete for. This year, it wants to play in the Howe Cup against the top 8. Each match contributes to a team's ranking, determining which trophy a squad plays for at the end of the year.
The men's team is looking to hold on to its position in the second division, in competition for the Hoehn Cup. "We want to be top 12 and keep building for next year," said co-captain Blake Reinson '14.
But the squad has some challenges to overcome. After graduating two of its top three players last year, it has been difficult to replace them, according to leGassick. The first-years have been struggling to adjust to the varsity level, he added.
The men are currently ranked 12th, and competition is pretty even, so it will be difficult to fight off teams below them, Reinson said. He said Chris Holter '13 and Alex Hsu '13, two strong players, are studying abroad.
"We've just got to defend our ranking until they get home, then we'll be good," said co-captain Brad Thompson '12.
But both captains are excited for the season, and know if the team maintains discipline throughout the year, they are bound to hold onto their 12th-place ranking.
Both squads are benefitting from a new assistant coach, Peter Avitable, who previously coached for a year at Connecticut College.
"It was last-minute, but he's really awesome," Thompson said.