By Anne Bello
Published Aug 13, 2010 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated Aug 12, 2010 at 8:48 PM ET

New Haven, CT — The 2010 Wetzel Award was presented to Wellesley senior captain Ashley Stevens. She is the second Wellesley player to earn this distinction; Lila Lee won the Wetzel Award in 2004.

First awarded in 1995, the Wetzel Award is given annually to a senior who began playing squash in college, demonstrates a high level of skill and  a solid understanding of the game, and exhibits good sportsmanship.

To be eligible for the Wetzel Award, a player must not have played squash before college. Players are nominated for the award by their coaches, and the Awards Committee determines the winner. The award, which is named for former University of Pennsylvania head coach Ann Wetzel, is presented at the Women’s National Team Championships (Howe Cup).

Stevens began playing squash three years ago, and started competing at the bottom of the Blue’s ladder. She gradually worked her way up, finishing her senior season playing number 1 for Wellesley. Stevens finished her season with a 6-14 record, winning all three of her matches at Howe Cup and leading Wellesley to the “E” Division title. She was also a member of the Wellesley squad that received the 2009 Chaffee Award for team sportsmanship.

Wellesley has a long history in women’s college squash, and for a time the Blue were one of the top small college programs in the United States, finishing in the top ten in the national rankings. The program experienced a setback when Wellesley dropped squash as a varsity sport in 2005.  The college reinstated the varsity program in 2007, and the Blue finished the 2007-2008 season with a winning record. Since then, however, injuries and player turnover have hampered efforts to rebuild the program. Many of Stevens’s teammates this season were new to squash, and her performance set a high standard for her teammates. Stevens’s success — and Wellesley’s dominance of the “E” Division — are encouraging signs for a rebuilding program.