The No. 1 Harvard women’s squash team picked up its first match of the new year right where it left off. The Crimson entered Wednesday night’s contest at the Murr Squash Center riding a three game win streak to close out its 2012 schedule.
In its first match of 2013, Harvard (4-0, 1-0 Ivy) dominated from top to bottom and posted a perfect 9-0 win over Bates. The match against the Bobcats was the last time the Crimson plays at home before hitting the road to face some tough Ivy League competition.
“It was good match preparation for [this coming] weekend,” co-captain Sarah Mumanachit said of her team’s outing against Bates. “We have a big one coming up. We’re on the road in some really competitive Ivy League matches. It was good to put our training to the test and switch it up from just playing each other.”
It was a long winter break for Harvard, as the Crimson did not play a match for over a month. But the team reconvened on campus earlier this week in preparation for this week’s competition. There were no signs of rust despite the time off, as Harvard failed to surrender a single game to the Bobcats, with all ten matches on the court taken by a 3-0 margin. The Crimson won every game by at least five points.
“We were really pleased with the results,” said fellow co-captain Natasha Kingshott. “The Bates match was really important for us to test ourselves after the holiday break.”
It was a quick and easy win for sophomore Amanda Sobhy, who made her season debut in the number one position after being sidelined by injury in the Crimson’s earlier matches. The reigning individual national champion breezed through with 11-2, 11-3, and 11-1 wins against Bates senior Cheri Ann Parris.
Fellow sophomore Haley Mendez capped a quick win with 11-1, 11-2, 11-1 victories over Myriam Kelly of the Bobcats. Mendez, who last year was named a CSA second team All-American, improved to a perfect 3-0 on the season in the number two spot.
There were a few familiar faces notably absent from the Harvard lineup. Senior Laura Gemmell, who started in the number one seed earlier this year, was sidelined with an injury and forced to rest this week. But even with a few key players out, the Crimson easily handled Bates in the rest of its matches.
Freshman Michelle Gemmell improved to 2-0 in her debut season with 11-2, 11-4, and 11-4 wins in the third spot. Fellow first year Isabelle Dowling is now 4-0 on the year, after taking down her opponent, 11-5, 11-6, and 11-2, in the number six position.
Kingshott and Mumanachit cleaned up quickly in the number four and five matches, respectively. The co-captains posted identical 11-1, 11-4, and 11-6 wins. Fellow senior Eliza Calihan improved to a perfect 4-0 on the year with an 11-4, 11-5, and 11-3 win over Samantha Matos of the Bobcats.
Rounding out the top nine, junior Natasha Anzik posted the only shutout game in the top nine matches. She opened with a perfect 11-0 victory over Emma Kroein, then followed that with back-to-back 11-3 wins to easily take down her opponent.
Playing at number 10, junior Georgiana Brinkley posted the most dominant victory of the evening. Brinkley allowed just three points, going 11-1, 11-2, and 11-0, and improved to 2-1 on the season.
The match against Bates provided a last minute tune up before Harvard hits the road to take on Ivy opponents Princeton and Penn this weekend. The match against the Bobcats marks an important milestone as the Crimson gears up for the second part of its season, where it generally faces stiffer competition against conference foes.
“This is definitely the part of the season we have been looking towards,” Mumanachit said.
With a conference road trip a few days away, Harvard looks to keep its unbeaten streak alive. The Crimson has not dropped a match in the top nine in any of its outing this season, having posted identical 9-0 victories in all four matches thus far.
“We were really happy to have the opportunity to play Bates this week to help mentally and physically prepare ourselves for this weekend,” Kingshott said.
--Staff writer Brenna R. Nelsen can be reached at email@example.com