Fraiberg Closes Out Impressive Career
When talking with an athlete away from her competitive setting, it is easy to remain undaunted by her accomplishments and thus feel comfortable in her presence. Especially when the athlete is as personable, tolerant, and modest as Jordanna Fraiberg.
That aside, it is doubtful that any self-respecting reporter would want to come within ten yards of Fraiberg on a squash court, and squash players around the globe would probably agree.
For while Fraiberg gives the impression of being an easy going, relatively-relaxed person off the court, her on-the-court exploits suggest a different, more relentless side to her personality.
Several weeks ago, Fraiberg led the Crimson to its third consecutive national championship and then took the individual national championship herself. In doing so, she brought one of the most illustrious careers in Harvard squash history to a close.
That career has a laundry list of achievements. Three Barhite trophies and two Howe Cups for team competition. Four individual national championship finals showings and another individual national title to complement the one she just won.
But while those achievement are impressive, they don't even begin to describe the extent of Fraiberg's enormous contribution to the sport.
Fraiberg began playing squash at the ripe young age of 10 in her home-town of Montreal.
"My family belonged to an athletic club," the Canadian native said. "When my brother started playing in tournaments, I'd go along to watch him. Soon I thought that I might as well play too."
In progressing through midteenage competition, Fraiberg constantly fluctuated between the number-two and -four rankings in her region, depending on her age and corresponding bracket.
Fraiberg continued to improve throughout high school, earning her a look from a number of solid squash programs. After taking a year off after graduation, she decided to follow her brother to Harvard, where she knew and liked then-coach Steven Piltch.
Playing for Harvard took considerable adjustment for Fraiberg, who had some difficulty getting accustomed to the team-oriented philosophy, since she had been raised by the sport on exclusively-individual competition. But once acclimated to the collegiate system, there was no stopping Fraiberg, both playing and helping her teammates.
"Playing for Harvard has been a great experience for me," Fraiberg said. "Learning to play for the team in addition to myself was very important to me. Team play taught me how gratifying it is to help others and how great it is to see my teammates improve."
With Fraiberg's presence in the line-up, the team certainly did improve. As a freshman, she led the Crimson to a runner-up placing at the team national championships, dropping a close final to Princeton. Individually, Fraiberg also placed second behind Yale's Berkely Belknap.
For champions, though, second place isn't good enough. Harvard and Fraiberg proved this cliche to be true the following year when both won their respective championships over their respective nemeses, Princeton and Belknap. The Crimson also captured the coveted Howe Cup from Yale that year to make it a clean sweep across the title board, all thanks to the leadership and inspired play of Fraiberg.
In the fall of the next year, 1993, however, Fraiberg took a hiatus from squash to study in India for the semester. The experience was a rewarding one for the then-junior, but one not without unfavorable consequences.
"When I came back, I got sick for weeks, and missed a few tournaments, and had trouble getting back into squash," she said.
Fortunately for the Crimson, Fraiberg recovered from these set-backs to lead her team to its second consecutive national championship and Howe Cup. But Fraiberg was unable to completely regain her form from the year before, losing the individual national competition to an old nemesis and childhood friend, Margot Greene, in the semifinals.
Fraiberg's final defeat last spring to her cherished friend and opponents set the stage for what has been perhaps Fraiberg's sweetest year to date in her squash career.
In classic form, Fraiberg reasserted herself at the apex of collegiate women's squash this spring while leading the Crimson to its third consecutive national championship. Fraiberg put a glorious exclamation point on her fabulous career with a rewarding triumph over Greene in the individual national championship final.
"I was playing a friend--well, rival--in the championship," Fraiberg said. "It was a great all-around experience for me."
Now that Fraiberg has finalized her Harvard squash career and accomplished everything in the collegiate sport that there has been to accomplish, you'd think that she would hang up her raquet.
But alas, you would be mistaken. Fraiberg is currently training as hard as ever for the National Tournament of Champions, an April open invitational tournament sponsored by Reebok, and she is now entertaining thoughts of playing on the professional tour.
"Squash has been such an important part of my life," she said. "I just don't know if I want to let go of it yet."