By Anne Bello
Published Oct 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM ET; Updated Oct 22, 2010 at 10:21 PM ET

Medford, MA — After a slow start to the 2009-2010 season, Tufts finished strong, making it to the Epps Cup (D Division) finals. The Jumbos won their first two matches at the Women’s National Team Championships (Howe Cup) decisively. They swept Boston College in the opening round and then defeated Northeastern 8-1. Though Tufts lost 2-7 to Columbia in the Epps Cup finals, the team’s successes in the last few weeks of the season are an encouraging sign for the future.

The Jumbos would like to return to the C Division this year, and with their top seven players returning, that goal should be well within reach. Tufts suffered two 4-5 losses to C Division teams — William Smith and Saint Lawrence — in late January. Both of those squads lost multiple varsity players to graduation, and that may be enough to give the Jumbos an edge. Even if the teams don’t meet during the regular season, any instability in the bottom half of the C Division will give the Jumbos an opportunity to move up.

Tufts will have seven new players contributing to the team, and the ladder should be deeper. The Jumbos will also have a new head coach, Belkys Velez, who will take over for men’s coach Doug Eng. Velez is already familiar with the team, having worked as the Jumbos’ assistant coach last season.

The Jumbos will open their season in late November against Bates, which should be a tough match, and Connecticut College, a team they beat 6-3 at last season’s NESCAC championships.

2009-2010 SEASON RECAP

Season Record: 6-11
Final Ranking: 26
National Team Championships: 26th Overall; 2nd in Epps Cup (“D” Division)

2010-2011 SEASON PREVIEW

Returning Players from Team Championships: Valerie Koo (1), Mercedes Barba (2),
Alix Michael (3), Alyse Vinosky (4), Jess Rubine (5), Madison Newbound (6), Ushashi Basu (7), Xiaomeng (Mengmeng) Wang (12)

Graduates on Last Season’s Team Championships: Stefanie Marx, Erin Bruynell (8), Sairah Mahmud (9), Lauren Lanster (10)

Additions to the 2010-2011 Roster: Caroline Howe, Chelsea Dickson, Hafsa Chaudhry, Risa Meyers, Caitlin Doherty, Ran Zhang,  Sonia Susanto

Program Status: Varsity

Head Coach: Belkys Velez (suceeds Doug Eng)

Captains: Valerie Koo and Mercedes Barba

Team Goals: Gain confidence and motivation, and work hard to return to the  C Division and reach the top 18

Key Matches: Wesleyan, Vassar, Amherst, Colby, and Bowdoin

To read other team previews, please visit the 2010 – 2011 College Squash Preview Page.