Women's Squash: Tigers enter Howe Cup as top seed
The Princeton women’s squash team, ranked No. 1 in the country, clinched the Ivy League Championship last Sunday with a win over Columbia. The Tigers (11-0 overall, 7-0 Ivy League) have dominated the majority of their matches, posting an undefeated regular season record and a win rate of roughly 90 percent in individual matches. Their final challenge as a team this year is this weekend’s Howe Cup, the Women’s College Squash National Tournament, hosted by Yale. Princeton was defeated last year in the semifinals 2-7 by Yale and was also dropped 2-7 by Trinity in the third-place match.
The Tigers, however, had a couple of tough matches this season. Both Harvard and Yale put up a fight, but Princeton pulled through to win both matches 5-4. The victories were the culmination of a Tiger team that has dramatically improved its level of play throughout the season. Princeton came into the season ranked fourth, behind both Yale and Harvard, who were ranked No. 2 and No. 1, respectively, but victories against both teams cemented Princeton’s spot at the top of the rankings.
Leadership proved to be one of the major factors that contributed to Princeton’s success this season.
“We have great leadership not only from the captains [seniors Julie] Cerullo and [Casey] Cortes, but from all the upperclass women,” head coach Gail Ramsay said.
Cerullo, who has played in the No. 1 slot for Princeton since her sophomore year, is a three-time First-Team All-America and a three-time member of the All-Ivy League, as well as a finalist for this season’s Richey Award. The honor is awarded to the women’s collegiate squash player who best demonstrates leadership and excellence of play. Last year’s award went to Katie Giovinazzo ’12, the team’s captain last season.
“We have worked very hard over the last few years to improve and mature our games,” Ramsay said. “Our overall work ethic is key to our success so far this season.”
Princeton’s work ethic and conditioning certainly came into play in the matches against Yale and Harvard and will be even more important this weekend, when Princeton will play teams looking to upset the top-seeded Tigers.
“The only way you prepare to play your best game is through great practice day in [and] day out over the course of one’s squash life,” Ramsay said. “We work on fitness, skills, tactics and our competitiveness.”
Despite Princeton’s incredible success this season, it is crucial for Princeton not to feel too confident in its ranking heading into the tournament
“One point at a time, one game at a time and one match at a time,” Ramsay said when describing the team’s strategy. “[The plan] is simply to play our best, try our hardest and fight through to the end, [something that] Princeton athletes know how to do.”
Princeton is tentatively scheduled to play No. 8 Brown in the first round on Friday afternoon. In the Tigers-Bears matchup this season on Feb. 3, Princeton defeated Brown a resounding 9-0. Cerullo will lead the Tigers’ lineup playing at the No. 1 spot, followed by fellow All-America and All-Ivy junior Libby Eyre.
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