Julia Beaver is the junior No. 1 for the women's squash team. She recently sat down with staff writer Sara Conrath.
'Prince': How has it felt the past two years winning the national championship? What thoughts have gone through your head?
Julia Beaver: Before college I always played solely individual tournaments. Winning the past two national championship team events is something that's very special and very different than winning an individual event in that you have the support of every single member of your team behind you. It's an incredible feeling that you can't get from winning an individual title.
P: You've already basically answered this, but which was more satisfying, winning the team national championship or the individual championship?
JB: It definitely was winning the team national championship, although last year's individual national championship was great for me to win because I had lost the year before. Going into both years' tournaments, I was seeded No. 1. So I was going in with the pressure of being No. 1 last year that I wasn't able to deal with my freshman year. Being able to work through that pressure and win was very satisfying.
P: How does it feel going into the team national championship not being seeded No. 1?
JB: My freshman year we were undefeated and won the Ivy League, and then we were seeded No. 1 going into the national championship. Whereas last year we lost to Harvard in the Ivy League and were seeded second going into the national championship tournament and turned around that match and beat Harvard in the finals.
That's kind of the same this year. We lost to Penn earlier in the season, so Penn was the Ivy League Champion, and we'll be seeded second going into the tournament. I think squash is the only sport where the Ivy League is what competes for the national championship. Yeah, it's probably the only one.
P: In all your years here, what has been the most exciting match that you have been a part of?
JB: I'd have to say the finals of the team championship last year because we weren't expected to win. We went in there thinking we could, but we were just really focused on what we wanted to do. It came down to four-all in the matches. I remember coming off my court and I think I might have been the fourth match to win and there was one match left. I've never really felt so much excitement.
P: You were injured this season and had to sit out the Yale match. Have you been injured before?
JB: I've always had really bad ankles, so I wear these big oafy ankle braces which everyone makes fun of me for wearing, but I have no choice. I think they make my legs look short, but I have to wear them.
P: How much competition is there within the team for the spots?
JB: I think to our coach's credit she has us play challenge matches throughout the season to make sure everyone's still training and practicing really hard, and everyone stays focused on the matches. She uses her discretion in terms of when to make people play challenge matches, but they definitely continue throughout the season. We have a couple of positions that have gone back and forth, actually more so in past years than this year.
P: How much interaction is there between the men's and women's teams?
JB: I remember coming on my recruiting trip to Princeton and going to a coed squash party, and everyone saying, "Oh, Julia, the men's and women's teams are so close, and you're going to love it here, and etc., etc." Then I came my freshman year, and they said "Oh, we were just telling you that because we wanted you to come here; we're really not close with the men's team at all. They don't really like us."
But since my freshman year, I think we have become really close. We always go watch their matches and cheer them on, and they come watch ours and cheer us on, and I was so excited that they won the Ivy championship this year. They really deserve it, and they work really hard. We're definitely much closer, I mean, we have bus rides together, and we socialize more than we used to.
P: So, have you ever played [men's squash's No. 1] Peter Yik?
JB: I have played Peter Yik. He's nice enough to hit with me every once in a while. He actually hits with me a lot, and I appreciate his help. I'll practice with the men's team once a week, just to get a variety of matches, and sometimes I'm lucky enough to get to hit with him. He always beats me, even when he'll put a condition on himself, like he can only hit a certain kind of shot, or a certain couple kind of shots, and I can hit whatever I want. Then it gets a little bit closer, but he'll still beat me.
P: What was it like to face [teammate and No. 3] Meredeth Quick at the Constable Invitational [consolation match] this year?
JB: It's always tough when you play your friends. I had to deal with that growing up, because my best friend during high school and middle school was also my main rival in the junior squash circuit. You just have to keep that outside the court, and be mean on the court, because I have to give Meredeth all the respect that she deserves, because she's a tough player.