Approaching the end of a transitional season in which its young lineup has been impaired by injury and illness, Stanford’s women’s squash team heads to Boston this coming weekend for the 2015 College Squash Association National Championship Tournament, still with hopes of bringing home a national title.
For sophomore CC Ho, the No. 1 player on the team, the national championship involves a whole new level of energy that the Cardinal are ready to embrace.
“Nationals is a whole new vibe,” Ho said. “There are typically 30 or 40 teams there, and it’s very different because usually when you travel it’s at most maybe five teams at the courtside at any time. But nationals feels like a much bigger deal.”
The Cardinal will be playing in the B Division of the CSA Championship, with each division consisting of eight teams. Stanford will be the second seed in the division, with No. 9 Dartmouth being the top seed and Stanford’s primary competition.
“When we played Dartmouth, we didn’t have a full lineup and it was right after we lost to Columbia,” Ho said. “After that match we felt really defeated and we couldn’t shake it off. So we’re very ready to face Dartmouth again if we can get to the finals.”
Stanford has battled injuries all season, which has been particularly tough considering that the team is relatively young — freshmen Sarah Bell and Christie Huchro round out the Cardinal’s top three spots in the lineup after Ho.
Sophomore Bailey Bondy, who likely would have been in the top three of the lineup, has been held out the entire year with an injury. Though the team even believed she might be available for this weekend’s nationals, she was not able to recover in time.
The No. 10 Cardinal suffered various setbacks this year aside from the injuries. They lost matches to George Washington and Pennsylvania in early January, causing them to drop in the national rankings. Additionally, Stanford suffered 9-0, 8-1 and 9-0 losses to Yale, Trinity and Princeton over the remainder of the month.
Considering all of those things, Stanford has certainly done a great job battling through a tough rebuilding season. Although this season may not have gone as well as the team could have hoped, the youthful lineup and return of multiple injured players provides a large sense of optimism for the team going forward.
“Our trajectory is definitely going to spike,” Ho said. “[Bell, Huchro and I] have a lot of potential to improve over the next three years. This year has mostly just been a year to get a lot of experience and learned a lot from playing a lot of the top players.”
With squash being an East Coast-dominated sport, Stanford faces a number of unique challenges as the lone West Coast representative in the B Division. Ho mentioned the exhausting travel schedule and frequent away games among these challenges.
“For us, it’s definitely jet lag,” Ho said. “We complain about the cold all the time, but mostly it’s just jet lag and having to play after being on a six-hour flight and being stiff from that. Home-court advantage always goes to wherever we travel, so we’re always at a disadvantage.”
But while they won’t be on the Farm for the championship, many of the Stanford players’ families will be in attendance in Boston.
The Cardinal’s first-round matchup against Drexel will take place this Friday at Harvard University. The tournament will continue throughout the weekend, with all games being played at either Harvard or MIT.
Contact Sandip Srinivas at sandips ‘at’ stanford.edu and Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’ stanford.edu.