After splitting a pair of meets on the road this past weekend, No. 5 Stanford women’s squash will travel to New Haven, Connecticut to take on six top teams this weekend, its final series of matches before the CSA National Championships at the end of February.
Last Saturday, the team lost its opening match against No. 2 Pennsylvania, 9-0. However, there were bright spots in that loss. Freshman Grayson Melby played without a brace for the first time since tearing her ACL in her senior year of high school and took her match to five games.
The team bounced back on Sunday with a 7-2 victory against Columbia, a team that it had lost to 5-4 last year. One of the highlights of that match was fifth-year senior captain Madeleine Gill’s five-game victory, in which she won the first two games, then lost the next two before winning the decisive fifth game.
Stanford opens play this weekend against No. 4 Yale on Friday. Stanford head coach Mark Talbott was the head coach of the Yale women’s squash team for seven years, with his tenure there culminating in a national championship in 2004, before he came to Stanford. Talbott’s older brother, David, is also the head coach of Yale’s men’s squash team.
“It’s great to be back there and see my brother,” the younger Talbott said. “We have a good rivalry going on.”
On Saturday, Stanford plays No. 10 Dartmouth, No. 8 Cornell and No. 11 Williams.
“Traditionally, Cornell has always been our toughest competitor,” said senior Sarah Haig.
After losing to the Big Red last year, Stanford dropped considerably in the rankings, but Haig says that the team is “gunning for Cornell this year.” Stanford has had recent success against Williams but does not want to take a win in that match for granted.
The team closes out the weekend with matches against No. 9 Drexel and No. 3 Princeton on Sunday. Stanford has lost four straight against Princeton and has not faced Drexel in a match before.
Haig, who will not be playing this weekend because of back problems, knows all the matches will be difficult, but says the team embraces the challenge of playing highly-ranked opponents.
Although last year the Cardinal lost to Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell and Princeton — four of the six teams that Stanford will play this weekend — Haig describes the team as very forward-looking. “Last year was last year,” she said.
Assistant coach Richie Elliott believes that the key to a successful weekend is all about preparation.
“If you’ve put the work in and you’ve put the time in, you’re probably going to do well,” Elliott said. “If you haven’t, it’s difficult to do well.”
The team needs a strong performance this weekend to lock up a top-eight seed needed to play in the national championship tournament.
Contact Elliott Lapin at elapin ‘at’ stanford.edu.