By Anne Bello
Published Oct 8, 2009 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated Nov 29, 2009 at 2:20 PM ET

vassarPoughkeepsie, NY — With an influx of experienced first-year players, defending Liberty League champion Vassar looks to move back into the B Division to compete for the Kurtz Cup.

The Brewers will lose two players from last season’s Howe Cup roster: former captain Eleanor Weiss, who graduated in May, and sophomore Sarah Hockney, who will be taking time off from squash to focus on her academic interests in health care. Returning to the team will be seniors Anna Licht, who played number 5 on the 2008 Howe Cup roster and should compete for a spot in the middle of the lineup, and Olivia Mak, who tore her ACL at the 2009 Howe Cup but should be back in playing form by November. Two-time Liberty League Player of the Year Emilie Kraft will captain the team with fellow seniors Hope Blinkoff and Caitlin Ly, who both earned Liberty League honors last season.

Seven first-year players will be joining the Vassar team. Libby Pei, a four-year letter winner at Phillips Exeter, should play in the Brewers’ top three and bring some artistic talent to the team. For her senior project in an advanced studio art course, Pei drew on her interest in squash to design a book based on a Rob Dinerman article about the history of the game at Exeter. Alexa Lichtenstein,  Sanam Khanna, Jill Levine, Avery Siciliano, and Amanda Scott should all compete for spots in the middle of the ladder, and Carolyn Symons, along with sophomores Katie Cornish and Peri Akchurin, will fill out the rest of the Brewers’ roster.

Vassar has lost its assistant coach position, but with an increasingly deep roster, the team has set concrete goals: to defend their Liberty League title, win at least three matches against Mount Holyoke at Seven Sisters, and return to the Kurtz Cup.

The Vassar squash courts have been a hive of activity this summer. Blinkoff and Vassar alumna and former captain Katie Siegel helped with a squash camp that brought together players from StreetSquash and prep schools. “They all got on like a house on fire,” says Jane Parker, who described the participants as “eight of the most amazing kids from very different backgrounds.” The local community also got involved in the camp, and the players were invited to the Dean of the Faculty’s house for ice cream, a history lesson, and mini concert from the Dean’s wife, renowned harpist Jeannie Chennette. The kids in Vassar’s Young Playwrights camp also had the opportunity to try squash, and the team is planning to bring more squash to the camp in the future.

2008-2009 Season Recap

SEASON RECORD: 11-8
FINAL RANKING: 19th
NATIONAL TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS: 19th; 3rd in Walker Cup (C Division)

2009-2010 Season Preview

Returning Players from Team Championships: Emilie Kraft ’10 (1); Kristine Bell ’11 (3); Caitlin Ly ’10 (4); Hope Blinkoff ’10 (5); Margaret Taylor ’12 (6); Nina Punukollu ’12  (8); Olivia Mak  ’10 (9); Kristina Schwartz ’10 (10)


Graduating Players from Team Championships:
Eleanor Weiss (2)

Additions for the 2009-2010 Roster:

  • Expected to play in the top 3: Libby Pei
  • Expected to compete for spots in the middle of the ladder: Alexa Lichtenstein, Sanam Khanna, Jill Levine, Anna Licht, Avery Siciliano, and Amanda Scott
  • Expected to compete for spots at the bottom of the ladder: Carolyn Symons, Katie Cornish, and Peri Akchurin

Captains: Emilie Kraft, Caitlin Ly, and Hope Blinkoff

Team Goals: To retain the Liberty League Trophy, win at least 3 matches against Mount Holyoke at Seven Sisters and play in Division B at Howe Cup

Vassar 2008 - 2009

Vassar 2008 - 2009

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