By Saturday night, it was official: a Harvard women’s squash player was going to win the 2006 College Squash Association (CSA) Individual Championships. The only thing yesterday’s final would determine was which.
In the end, freshman Lily Lorentzen knocked off junior Kyla Grigg in five games, staving off her teammate’s comeback bid to win, 9-7, 9-3, 0-9, 0-9, 9-7.
“It was really exciting—maybe even more exciting—to have a teammate in the final,” Lorentzen said.
It capped a smashingly successful individual tournament for the No. 3 Crimson, which saw three of its entries—Lorentzen, Grigg, and sophomore Jen Blumberg—reach the quarterfinals. In addition, sophomore Supriya Balsekar, who lost in the round of 16, knocked off Princeton’s top player in the second-round consolation bracket.
“I think it’s a great way to end the season,” Grigg said.
While it wasn’t surprising that Harvard’s representatives performed well—the Crimson’s strength at the top five flights is among the best in the country—Grigg’s appearance in the finals was slightly unexpected.
Heading into the tournament, the expectation was that Sunday’s final would be a rematch between Lorentzen, the No. 1 seed, and two-time individuals champion Michelle Quibell of Yale, seeded No. 2.
Lorentzen, who postponed her enrollment at Harvard to train and play internationally, had already beaten Quibell twice this season. The first time was in five games in the Crimson’s 5-4, Ivy title-clinching win at Yale Feb. 22. The second time was in the Bulldog’s 6-3 victory at the Howe Cup a week ago, where Lorentzen held a 2-1 lead before Quibell defaulted.
This weekend, however, Quibell wouldn’t even reach the semifinals.
After defeating No. 18-seed Balsekar in the round of 16, 9-4, 9-1, 9-1, Quibell squared off with seventh-seeded Grigg in the quarters for a rematch of the Individual final from 2005.
Then, Quibell topped Grigg in four games.
This year, Grigg didn’t need to wait that long to face the two-time defending champ—nor did she need more than three games to dispatch her, 9-4, 9-5, 9-3.
“I was excited, because I had absolutely nothing to lose,” Grigg said. “[Quibell] had more difficult time on her side of it, more pressure.”
Grigg said her experience in last year’s tournament helped prepare for this year, particularly the matches leading up to the final.
“I had some rough matches this season,” she added, “so I came out this year with more of a revenge feeling.”
Grigg also beat third-seeded Miranda Ranieri of Yale in the semis in straight games, 9-2, 9-2, 9-3.
Blumberg, seeded 11th, beat Yale’s Lauren McCrery and Trinity’s Lauren Polonich to reach her quarterfinal bout with Ranieri.
In one of the tournament’s tightest matches, Blumberg held a 2-1 lead but dropped the fourth game, 9-5.
In the final game, Ranieri finally edged out the narrowest of victories with a 10-9 win.
Lorentzen, as the top seed, had a relatively easy time against the No. 32 seed, the No. 16 seed, and the No. 8 seed before toppling fifth-seeded Larissa Stephenson of Trinity in the semis in less than 20 minutes, 9-6, 9-1, 9-3.
“Even though it’s an individual event, it didn’t feel like that,” Lorentzen said. “All your teammates are still playing—it’s a different thing altogether playing someone you’re usually working with.”
Her win gave Harvard its first Ramsay Cup since Ivy Pochoda ’98 won it in 1998—the last time the individual tournament was held at Amherst.
—Staff writer Lisa J. Kennelly can be reached at email@example.com.