By Anne Bello
Published May 29, 2012 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated May 28, 2012 at 9:03 PM ET

Cambridge, MA — Middlebury College won the 2012 Most Improved Team Award.

The Most Improved Team Award is based on both the number of spots a team has improved in the rankings as well as the strength of the opponents they have surpassed. This award was first presented in 2010. This year’s award was presented at the 2012 Women’s National Team Championships, which was hosted by Harvard University.

Three years ago, Middlebury finished the season ranked fourteenth in the nation. The Panthers went on a roll the following season, making it to the finals of the NESCAC championships and entering the 2011 Women’s National Team Championships seeded second in the B Division.  An unexpected first-round loss to Mount Holyoke relegated the Panthers to the consolation half of the bracket, and they ended the season ranked 13th.

2012 Women's National Team Championships (Howe Cup): Most Improved Team Middlebury

2012 Women's National Team Championships (Howe Cup): Most Improved Team Middlebury

The Panthers opened this season by taking on four A Division squads, including eventual national champions Harvard. Coming into winter break, Middlebury had yet to put a win — match or individual — on the board. In January they reversed the scores from the fall, turning 0-9 losses into a string of 9-0 wins. They also revenged the previous season’s loss to Mount Holyoke with a convincing 7-2 win.

Until the middle of January, most of Middlebury’s matches had been decided by large margins. Then the Panthers took on Williams at home and narrowly lost 4-5. A few weeks later, Middlebury and Williams had a rematch at the NESCAC championships, and Middlebury reversed the result, winning 5-4.

Middlebury had a strong performance at the 2012 Women’s National Team Championships, reaching the semifinals of the B Division and finishing 11th in the nation. Expect the team to only get stronger in the near future, as the young, deep squad will have the advantage of training and competing in a new squash facility. They will also be able to draw on the experience they have gained improving substantially in a short period of time.

Middlebury is coached by John Illig. Alexandra Boillot and Kathryn Bostwisk were the 2011-2012 captains.