By Anne Bello
Published Sep 30, 2009 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated Oct 2, 2009 at 8:38 PM ET

ColumbiaNew York, NY — Columbia has made steady progress up the rankings since debuting at 30th in 2007. The Lions finished 2009 by narrowly defeating F&M 5-4 to win the Walker Cup consolation final and finish 21st. As the team transitions from a club program to emerging varsity status, the Lions look to crack the top 20.

Columbia recently hired Jacques Swanepoel as its first ever head squash coach, which will be a big boost to the program as it moves from a club to a varsity team in the coming season. The squad will lose five players from their 2009 Howe Cup roster to graduation, including Olivia Tandon and 2009 Wetzel Award winner Zahrah Taufique, who both were involved in founding the team. Sophomore Liz Chu will return at number 1, and junior Anne Cheng and senior Tara Banani will captain the squad. By October, the team expects to have players to fill in the bottom of its ladder.

The team will continue its partnership with StreetSquash this year. The Lions practice at the StreetSquash facility in Harlem, and in exchange each team member must volunteer for at least one hour per week either as a tutor or as a squash volunteer.

2008-2009 Season Recap

SEASON RECORD: 10-6
FINAL RANKING: 21st
NATIONAL TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS: 21st; 5th (consolation winner) in Walker Cup (C Division)

2009-2010 Season Preview

Returning Players from Team Championships: Liz Chu ’12 (1); Anne Cheng ’11 (3); Monica Gorman ’10 (6); Yoo-Na Kim ’11 (9); Tara Banani ’10 (11)

Graduating Players from Team Championships: Olivia Tandon (2); Zahrah Taufique (4; 2009 Wetzel Award winner); Yazzy Koukaz (7); Masha Ooyevaar (8); Maritza Harper (10); Lauren Zielinski

Captains: Tara Banani and Anne Cheng

Team Goals: To break the top 20 and hopefully make it into the top 15

Key Matches: F&M, Middlebury, Tufts, and William Smith

To read other team previews, please visit the 2009 – 2010 College Squash Preview Page.