The Harvard women’s squash team (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) opened its 2010-11 season this weekend in dominating fashion, hosting No. 10 Brown (1-1, 0-1) on Friday and both No. 6 Stanford (2-2) and No. 9 Williams (0-2) on Sunday. The Crimson, ranked first in the nation, defeated the Bears, 9-0, on Friday, and both the Cardinal and the Ephs, 9-0, on Sunday.
Last year, Harvard earned a perfect 12-0 record en route to a national title. During the season, the Crimson beat the Bears, 9-0, to open the year, and they also topped Williams twice by the same margin. Stanford fell to Harvard as well last year by a score of 8-1.
This season, the top athletes from last year’s Crimson rotation have returned, including sophomore and current individual national champion Laura Gemmell. The crew’s depth, then, should provide a valuable advantage as Harvard takes on higher-ranked squads.
The weekend’s games were also the first for new Crimson coach Mike Way as he steps in at the helm of the program this year. Way already possesses a strong relationship with Gemmell from their collaboration in the Canadian national circuits.
“[Way] has been my coach since I was 10 years old,” Gemmell explained.
HARVARD 9, WILLIAMS 0
Harvard blanked the Ephs without dropping a single game to end the team’s first weekend of competition.
“Williams gave us a good match,” sophomore Natasha Kingshott said. “They have a much larger team so we were able to play more matches than we usually do. It’s a great way to give the bottom of our lineup match experience. It also gets the freshmen involved and helps them to ease their college match jitters. I’m really proud of the freshmen—I think they did a great job.”
Williams’ efforts were not enough in the face of a strong Crimson performance. Playing consecutive matches in the same day also proved to have no effect on Harvard as it pushed the Ephs aside to earn its third victory of the year.
Although every Crimson athlete swept her match in straight sets, sophomore Sarah Mumanachit performed especially well, defeating Hanna Kaemmer by scores of 11-1, 11-1, and 11-2 at the No. 4 position. Freshman Natasha Anzik also had a nice day in the No. 9 slot for Harvard, battling her way to 11-2, 11-5, and 11-5 victories.
HARVARD 9, STANFORD 0
On the way to its second victory of the young season on Sunday morning, the Crimson moved past the Cardinal with ease.
“It’s always exciting to play Stanford,” Kingshott said. “They bring an awesome spirit. They came out strong. We knew they were going to be a force to deal with, but I think we handled the pressure well. Since we had so many matches, this weekend was about recovery and taking care of ourselves. Both mentally and physically, we were very strong.”
Harvard also enjoyed the home-field advantage, avoiding the long trek across country to play Stanford.
“In the past, we’ve flown to Stanford, so it was nice to have them come out and play us,” Gemmell said.