Undefeated W. Squash Shuts Out Cornell

Crimson does not drop single game as it sweeps Big Red for 6th straight year

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Jessica S. Lin

The Harvard women’s squash team continued its recent dominance over Cornell Saturday morning at the Murr Center, defeating the Big Red, 9-0, without dropping a single game.

This marked the sixth straight year that the Crimson (5-0, 3-0 Ivy) has swept Cornell (1-3, 0-3).

“They rolled everyone,” assistant coach Christopher Miller said. “Not dropping a game is a hard thing to do.”

Harvard came into the match following its somewhat lackluster 6-3 win over Dartmouth on Wednesday and was looking for an improved showing.

“We were really intense and focused [Saturday] morning,” said sophomore Katherine O’Donnell, who won, 9-2, 9-2, 9-2, at No. 3. “We had to come out aggressive because we knew that Cornell could suprise us.”

In the first round of matches, freshman Alisha Mashruwala fought through a tough first game at No. 2 to win, 9-7, 9-2, 9-3. By the time she had finished her match, the Crimson had already taken a 4-0 lead.

Sophomore Johanna Snyder was off the No. 4 court in a matter of minutes, using excellent shot placement to dispatch her opponent in convincing fashion, 9-3, 9-0, 9-0.

Sophomores Sandra Mumanachit and Charlene Neo also gained early victories playing in the No. 6 and 8 spots, respectively. Neo dropped only two points in her match and has now outscored her Cornell opposition 54-2 in the past two years.

The next round of matches for the Crimson were equally impressive.

Freshman June Tiong, Harvard’s No. 1, improved as her match went on. She dropped five points in a competitive first game but went on to win the second and third games, 9-2, 9-0.

“She’s a world-class player,” Snyder said of Tiong. “I’m impressed how she goes out there and plays older girls and how she handles herself against people who have been playing college squash for two or three years.”

Freshmen Bethan Williams and Alexandra Zindman both gained comfortable wins, with the latter dropping only two points.

Senior Emily Stork returned from injury to win her match, 9-4, 10-9, 9-5, in the No. 9 position, ensuring that the Crimson came away with the sweep.

While the victory was never in doubt once play began, it was important for the team to make a statement after Wednesday’s sub-par outing. While Harvard managed to defeat Dartmouth, the Crimson players did not feel that they have a great showing.

“We have bad days like on Wednesday, but we need to make those tough days count for our successes,” head coach Satinder Bajwa said. “9-0 was a crucial thing for our confidence.”

Both the coaches and players mentioned the hard work that was put in by the team Thursday and Friday.

And the preparation that went into Saturday was certainly reflected in the performance.

“They had a long week,” Miller said. “The girls are constantly asking what they can do better, and they learned from their mistakes Wednesday and came out and fixed those mistakes today. Credit goes to the girls for that.”

Harvard has also been forced to play without injured captain Supriya Balsekar, who is one of the team’s top players, forcing players into higher flights. Balsekar still remains an important presence in the locker room, though, and helped the Crimson recover from the midweek slip-up.

“Playing without Supriya is tough,” Snyder said. “We are used to having her lead through her squash, but she does a good job of leading off the court as well.”

“She kept the whole team together this week,” Bajwa said of his captain. “She’s a really great leader.”

Harvard will look to build off this performance when it participates in the 5-Woman Team Championships starting tomorrow.