Crimson Posts a Pair of 9-0 Wins in Openers

EARLY SUMMER
Jessica S. Lin

Sophomore June Tiong picked up where she left off last year, cruising to two wins on the weekend. She downed Brown’s Charlotte Steel 9-1, 9-4, 9-5, on Friday, then beat Williams’ No. 1 by an identical score yesterday.

The Harvard women’s squash team (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) opened its 2008-09 campaign by notching convincing wins over Brown and Williams with twin 9-0 routs.

With last year’s entire starting nine returning and two highly-touted freshman opening their collegiate careers, the team was at top form from the first point. Despite having no seniors in the starting nine and just freshmen and sophomores in the top four flights, the Crimson demonstrated the consistency and poise of a much older team.

“Not losing anybody from last year really helped our team dynamic,” junior captain Johanna Snyder said. “And our freshmen are top of the line and come in with a lot of maturity.”

The victories boost Harvard’s record against the Bears and Ephs since 2002 to 16-0. Harvard has won 9-0 against Williams and Brown 14 out of the 16 times they have faced each other.

HARVARD 9, WILLIAMS 0

The Crimson made quick work of the Ephs with an efficient 9-0 victory yesterday afternoon at the Barnaby Courts to complete the weekend sweep. For the second consecutive match, no Harvard player dropped a game.

“The team played extremely well. Superb,” said assistant coach Mohammad Ayaz, coaching in place of Harvard coach Satinder Bajwa, who was out of town for the weekend.

Juniors No. 9 Sandra Mumanachit and No. 7 Snyder were on and off the court within a half hour, making quick work of their opponents, 3-0.

Sophomores No. 6 Bethan Williams and No. 8 Alexandra Zindman likewise cruised to easy victories, building on their strong freshman campaigns.

Junior No. 5 Katherine O’Donnell faced the toughest test of the match, falling behind 6-7 in the third set after winning the first two, before rallying to win the next three points to conclude the match 3-0.

Sophomore No. 1 June Tiong, the 2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and CSA All-American, fell behind 0-2 in each of the first two sets before winning the next nine games to take both sets 9-2, and the match, 3-0.

HARVARD 9, BROWN 0

The Crimson breezed through its opening match Friday evening at the Barnaby Courts, with all nine flights sweeping their matches 3-0. Harvard racked up 243 total points to Brown’s 43.

Tiong and fellow 2007 CSA All-American sophomore No. 3 Alisha Mashruwala continued where they left off last season, winning 9-1, 9-4, 9-5 and 9-1, 9-2, 9-3, respectively.

O’Donnell, Zindman, and Mumanachit thoroughly dominated their opponents, each surrendering just three points over the course of their 3-0 contests.

Two highly recruited freshmen also made their collegiate debuts with convincing victories. Starting at No. 2, Nirasha Guruge, a member of the Sri Lankan National Team since 2005, swept her opening match, 9-2, 9-2, 9-4. Likewise, No. 4 Emily Park, who played with Team USA at the National Junior Championships, took her opening match 9-4, 9-6, 9-0.

While the Crimson cruised through its opening weekend, the real tests don’t begin until 2009 when the team takes on perennial powerhouses Princeton, Trinity, and Yale. However, based on a strong performance in its first two contests, Harvard is well positioned to be a legitimate contender for both the national and Ivy League titles.

“Our toughest competition is ahead of us.” Ayaz said, “All we can do right now is work hard and see what happens, one competition at a time.”

—Staff writer Barrett P. Kenny can be reached at bpkenny@fas.harvard.edu.

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