Northampton, MA — Although last weekend’s matches yielded few rankings changes, there should be a lot of movement after this weekend’s action.
All teams that competed this weekend MUST record their match scores as soon as possible in the US Squash Database. If scores are not reported, it is impossible to rank teams accurately, and penalties, including possible removal from the rankings, will occur.
The University of Washington played host to the West Coast Round Robin, and the Huskies made the most of their home court advantage. Ranked 40th coming into the weekend, Washington’s 8-1 victory over 35th-ranked Cal should move them up. Washington also swept Notre Dame and USC but fell to Stanford.
Seven women’s and eight men’s teams competed in the Pioneer Valley Invitational held at Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College.
The weekend opened with two highly anticipated matches at Mount Holyoke: the 12th-ranked Bates women versus 13th-ranked Mount Holyoke and the 12th-ranked Bates men versus St. Lawrence, ranked 14th. Last season, Bates beat Mount Holyoke 5-4 during the 11-12 playoff match at the Women’s National Team Championships (Howe Cup). But with number 2 Vidushi Gurunada out of the line-up, the Lyons only managed wins at number 4, with a command performance by Shaheen Madraswala, and at number 2, as junior captain Shara Robertson stepped up to beat Mimi Neal in four. The Bobcats dominated the bottom of the ladder, not dropping a game from number 7 down.
The Bates-St. Lawrence match-up proved to be the more exciting contest of the night. After the first round of matches, the Saints were up 3-1. Wins from R.J. Keating at 3 and Patrick Williams at 7 put the Bobcats back within striking distance. The number 1 match could have gone either way, as Bates’ Will Katz narrowly edged out Alex Dodge 11-9 in the fifth.
Tied 4-4, everything came down to the number 5 match between Kristian Muldoon of Bates and Jermaine Xaba of St. Lawrence. Muldoon took the first game, and Xaba came back to win the second. With all four Bates and St. Lawrence men’s and women’s squads cheering them on, Muldoon and Xaba took the third game to extra points, with Muldoon pulling away at the end, 13-11. Xaba put up some good points in the fourth, but Muldoon had the momentum and won the fourth and deciding game 11-8, securing the win for Bates.
Saturday’s play turned the bottom half of the women’s B Division on its head. Fourteenth-ranked Amherst started the day by upsetting Bates. Then 17th-ranked Columbia defeated Mount Holyoke. Middlebury, ranked 11th, turned in a strong performance against Amherst and beat Connecticut College handily. So far this season, Middlebury and Columbia only have one loss apiece: matching 0-9 losses to Princeton. The two squads will face off at the end of the month, while Middlebury and Bates are scheduled to play next weekend.
Perennial rivals Smith and Wellesley had one of the closest women’s matches of the weekend. The Blue had won their first meeting of the season 5-4 back in November. Although Smith has lost number 8 Jaimi Inskeep and number 2 Clair Oblamski to study abroad, the Pioneers turned in a series of strong performance to top Wellesley on Saturday. With the two teams splitting five-game matches – the number 7 match went to Smith’s Catie Blunt and the number 1 match went to Wellesley’s Rosemary O’Connor – the upcoming Seven Sisters tournament has the potential for an exciting rematch.
The Columbia men should also be moving up the rankings. The 27th-ranked Lions had a successful trip to Western Mass, knocking off number 24 Colby, number 25 Hobart, and number 26 Connecticut College. Columbia saved their best for their last match, a 5-4 win over number 22 Wesleyan. Columbia will have a chance to break into the top twenty when they host Navy next weekend.
The F&M men had high hopes for their match against Dartmouth, coming off a successful trip to the Pioneer Valley, where they beat Wesleyan, Bates, and Amherst. But the Big Green put the Diplomats’ dreams of making it into the A Division on hold with a 9-0 win.
The teams sitting right behind the Dips in the rankings, Penn and Williams, had a close match in Philadelphia. In his first appearance in the Penn varsity line-up, first-year Daniel Judd secured one of the Quakers’ five wins. James Clarke, Dan Greenberg, William Browne, and John Dudzik also came through with wins for the Quakers. The last time the two team met, the 2010 Hoehn Cup finals, also came down to a one-match margin in favor of Penn. With all but two of Saturday’s matches going past three games, an exciting championship rematch could be in the cards.
There were not close matches for the top men’s and women’s teams, but the Trinity-Yale match-ups this Wednesday should be interesting.