Cambridge, MA — At the women’s College Squash Association’s National Team tournament (Howe Cup), the 2009 Wetzel Award was presented to Columbia University’s Zahrah Taufique. The Wetzel Award is presented annually to a senior who began playing squash in college and has progressed to a high level of skill, demonstrates sound understanding of the game, and exhibits good sportsmanship and a positive demeanor on the court.
Until three years ago, Columbia did not have a women’s squash program. Taufique and Olivia Tandon formed a team and assembled a core group of players. Prior to Columbia, Tandon played in prep school at the Windsor School; however, Taufique was a rugby player in Hong Kong. The players petitioned Columbia and were granted official club status beginning in the 2006 – 2007 season.
This past fall, StreetSquash, a non-profit Harlem community program that combines athletics and academics, opened a new facility, which includes eight international squash courts. Columbia now practices at the StreetSquash facility. Prior to this season, Columbia’s teams practiced on the school’s narrow courts.
With active men’s and women’s squads and access to regulation courts, Columbia’s teams will be promoted to varsity status in the coming seasons.
During her senior season, Taufique helped guide the Columbia Lions to the twenty-first ranking in the country. Taufique, the squash club president, not only learned and excelled at squash in college, but she was also instrumental in establishing a successful club program that will soon join the varsity ranks. Few college squash players have accomplished such a task.