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W. Squash Season in Review: Squashing Gnats

Three-Peat in Team Championship, Individual Honors for Fraiberg as Harvard Proves Untouchable

By Deirdre K. Mcnamer

Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that certainly seems to be the motto of the Harvard women's squash team.

Another successful season saw the Hemenway gym crew finish 11-3 overall, and the trophy cabinet was once again garnished with the prestigious Howe Cup and the Barhite Trophy, awarded to the national champion Crimson for the third straight year.

The victories didn't end there. Five players traveled to the women's individual championships, where it was senior Jordanna Fraiberg who captured the title.

There were no disappointments, even for a team that graduated a number of key players.

"Last year our team was amazing," senior captain Polly Butler says. "All of our wins came pretty easily so we didn't have to worry about it much. But this year we were a lot less experienced, so it was more of a challenge."

The team, which lost four players in all, was led in play this year by Fraiberg and junior Libby Eynon. Sophomores Blair Clark and Erin Dockery and freshman Galt Niederhoffer were members of the supporting cast, lending their talent even when they couldn't contribute experience.

Harvard began its journey to the national title with a pre-season tournament at Brown, but they realized that the road to repetition might be a little bumpy.

"The scrimmage at Brown was really tough. There were a lot of good teams there," Butler says. "We realized we were going to have to work really hard, but when you work harder it's more rewarding."

The hard work paid off--the reward was a trip home to celebrate Christmas undefeated. And the winning continued on their return, with Harvard pulling out several close matches, including a narrow 5-4 victory in a dual meet with Princeton.

The meet marked a turning point in the team's season, according to Butler. "I think our confidence was there all along, but things really started coming together for us after Princeton," she says.

When the two teams met again in the Howe Cup tournament, Harvard came out a definitive 8-1 victor on the way to the title, the Crimson defeating Yale 5-4.

And the crowning achievement came a few short days later when Harvard, led by Fraiberg and Eynon, again toppled Yale to prove that it was nothing less than a national champion.

As if one cup wasn't enough, the individual honors continued to flow freely at the national individual championship, held at Williams College two weekends ago.

Fraiberg, along with teammates Eynon, Dockery, Clark and Niederhoffer, descended on Williamstown "like a swarm of gnats," according to Eynon, to capture the first, third and sixth place finishes. The six round, 64-person draw brought the top competitors from around the country to match racquet skills.

Fraiberg moved to the finals after blanking Eynon 3-0 in the semi-finals. And in the final round, another 3-0 victory over fellow Canadian Margot Green, a junior at Frankin and Marshall University, sent Fraiberg home as the national champion.

"I was playing a friend--well, rival--in the championship," the Mather House senior says."[Green and I] grew up near each other and have been competing since we were 10 or 11."

Clark and Dockery both advanced to the quarterfinals, where Clark was defeated by Green. But Clark worked her way back up the consolation bracket to win sixth in the nation. Eynon, after falling to Fraiberg, went on to a third-place finish.

In the end, it was smiles all around with a team national championship three-peat, a couple of trompings of Yale and a number of individual accomplishments to look back upon.

"I just think it's a great team," junior Debbie Lipson says. "We got along really well on an off the court. Most of all, it was just fun."

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