By Anne Bello
Published Oct 24, 2010 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated Oct 23, 2010 at 8:28 PM ET

Princeton, NJ — A year ago, the Princeton Tigers were coming off an undefeated season and their third consecutive national title. But a series of injuries to key players derailed the Tigers’ season, and they finished fifth overall, their weakest showing at Howe Cup since the 2002-2003 season.

There may be a silver lining to the Tigers’ challenging 2009-2010 season, however. The Tigers lost five seniors to graduation: Neha Kumar, Emery Maine, Kaitlin Sennatt, Amanda Siebert, and Vanessa Yu. Kumar, Maine, Sennatt, and Siebert were four of the Tigers’ top six players, and Yu was an accomplished scholar-athlete who received the Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports-Scholar Award. While the class of 2010 will certainly be missed, the fact that several of them were not playing at full strength throughout the season softens the loss somewhat.

It also gave the returning players more opportunities to play up and push themselves, and that should serve them well in the coming season. Seasoned veteran players Jackie Moss and Nikki Sequeira will lead the team, and sophomore Julie Cerullo, who played number 1 and 2 last season, will be fighting to keep her spot at the top of the ladder.  Casey Cortes and Katie Giovinazzo will bring additional varsity experience to the team, and Daphne Rein-Weston, Elisa Kontulis, and Clare Kuensell, who is returning from a knee injury last season, have all been training hard and improving their games over the summer.

The Tigers will be integrating a top-flight first-year class into their line-up. Among the incoming players are the top two American recruits of the class of 2014, Libby Eyre and Alex Sawin, who finished third and fourth, respectively, GU19 last season. Not far behind them were fellow first-years Lexi Saunders, who was sixth, and Caroline Feeley, who was sixteenth. Eyre and Saunders both represented the United States at the 2009 World Junior Championships in Chennai, India, and Feeley was a three-time national team champion at Greenwich Academy. Sophomore Kit Schloss will also be joining the team, and senior Julie Weigel will be returning to the squad as well.

“I do foresee a very competitive ladder and a number of players going back and forth with challenge match wins,” says head coach Gail Ramsay. “It is hard to predict how Princeton squash will fair this season, but with hard work and determination their potential is endless. It will come down to how well the returning players are able to set the tone and the level of intensity at start of the season and onward!”

The team has also been active outside of the squash courts, with several members contributing to Isles, a community development and environmental organization in central New Jersey. The team also participates in the Toys for Tots drive around Christmas and members have been involved in other service projects as well.

For the first time in seventeen years, the team will be without assistant coach Richard Hankinson, who retired last season. Hankinson will be hard to replace, and while the Princeton team faces many changes, it looks like the future is burning bright for these Tigers.

2009-2010 SEASON RECAP

Season Record: 9-5
Final Ranking: 5
Team Championships/Conference: 5th Over All; 5th in Howe Cup (“A” Division); 3rd in Ivy League

2010-2011 SEASON PREVIEW

Program Status: Varsity

Head Coach: Gail Ramsay

Returning Players from Team Championships: Julie Cerullo (2; 1st Team All-American; All-Ivy League Team); Casey Cortes (9); Katie Giovinazzo (8); Clare Kuensell (11); Jackie Moss (3; 2nd Team All-American; All-Ivy League Team); Daphne Rein-Weston (12); Nikki Sequeira (7); Elisa Kontulis (13)

Graduates on Last Season’s Team Championships Roster: Neha Kumar (5; 2nd Team All-American); Emery Maine (4; 2009-2010 Captain); Kaitlin Sennatt (6; 2009-2010 Captain); Amanda Siebert (1; 2009-2010 Captain); Vanessa Yu (10)

Additions to the 2010-2011 Roster: Lexi Saunders, Libby Eyre, Alex Sawin, Caroline Feeley, Kit Schloss, Julie Weigel, Clare Kuensell

Captains:
Jackie Moss and Nikki Sequeira

Team Goals: Improve and compete for the national championship

Key Matches: Ivy matches, Trinity

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