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With wins over No. 4 Penn and No. 7 Princeton this weekend, the No. 2 Harvard women’s squash team remained undefeated in the Ivies heading into this weekend’s national championship tournament.
Although New Haven will play host to the Howe Cup, the Ivy League title will likely be determined when Yale comes to Cambridge the following weekend.
The No. 3 Bulldogs are also unbeaten in the Ivies and are the only Ivy team Harvard (7-1, 5-0 Ivy) has yet to face.
Harvard 6, Penn 3
The top three for the Crimson all lost against the Quakers (9-3, 3-2) Saturday, but it didn’t matter. A sweep of the bottom six matches proved the depth of Harvard’s ladder and secured the victory for the Crimson.
After going undefeated in her first four matches of the season, junior co-captain Louisa Hall, the Harvard No. 1, suffered her second defeat in as many weeks. In a battle between All-Americans, Hall fell to intercollegiate No. 2 Runa Reta, 9-7, 9-4, 9-2.
Hall, ranked No. 3 in the nation, experienced her first loss of the season a week ago against No. 1 Amina Helal of Trinity. Although Hall returned to her familiar dominating form against a weaker Amherst opponent last Monday, Reta was able to preserve her undefeated record this season with a combination of tricky shots.
Hall admitted that she was still slightly shaky from last week’s bout with the flu, which had also played a factor in the Trinity match.
“Losing just one second of quickness can really hurt you,” Hall said.
Sophomore No. 2 Lindsey Wilkins also lost for the second consecutive weekend, although her match Saturday was far closer than her duel with Trinity’s Lynn Leong. In an arduous, see-saw battle lasting one hour and fifteen minutes, Wilkins led two games to one before narrowly dropping the final game 10-8 to Dafna Wegner and succumbing 3-2.
Wilkins noted that her loss seemed particularly satisfying for her opponent. The closeness of the match was reminiscent of Wegner’s contest against last year’s Harvard co-captain Margaret Elias ’02. Elias defeated Wegner 3-2, winning the fifth game 10-8.
Hall said the top five Quaker women were particularly strong and was pleased with how well sophomore Laura Delano and freshman Tina Browne played in Harvard’s No. 4 and No. 5 slots, respectively.
“They had really great wins against high ranking and international players,” Hall said.
At No. 4, Delano was the highest-ranked Crimson player to win, taking her match 9-6, 9-3, 7-9, 10-8.
Harvard 8, Princeton 1
The Tigers (5-4, 3-3) proved less of a challenge for Harvard. Both Hall and Wilkins rebounded from their frustrating losses to blow out their Princeton opponents in matches that lasted no more than fifteen minutes.
“It was good to win decisively,” Hall said. “We needed that confidence after our disappointment against Penn.”
Hall handily dispatched Ruchika Kumar, ranked No. 6 in the country.
Winning six of the matches 3-0, the Crimson lost only in the No. 5 spot, where Browne fell to Frances Comey after leading two games to one.
Freshman Allison Fast and sophomore Stephanie Hendricks, playing in the No. 7 and 9 spots, respectively, both rallied after losing the opening game to win their matches 3-1.
Wilkins, fired up from her bitter defeat the previous day, said that the solid, clean victory improved the team’s outlook going into the Howe Cup.
“This was what we needed—to play off our anger and frustration,” said Wilkins.
—Staff writer Lisa J. Kennelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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