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The Harvard women’s squash team preserved its undefeated record with two wins against No. 8 Dartmouth (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) and No. 12 Middlebury (0-4) last night in Hanover, N.H.
The No. 1 Crimson (4-0, 1-0) defeated the Big Green, 8-1, and the Panthers, 9-0, as Harvard’s top eight swept the competition in a dominant showing in the early season matchups.
“Everyone played well,” co-captain Nirasha Guruge said. “It took some of us a bit of time to get used to the courts. But I think once we settled down ... I think we did a pretty good job.”
Freshman Megan Murray and junior Eliza Calihan didn’t travel with the team to Dartmouth yesterday, so players on the bottom of ladder moved up two spots to fill in.
“I think if we had [Murray and Calihan] we would have won 9-0 against Dartmouth too,” Guruge said. “But I am proud that we still we won ... against both schools even without these two players.”
HARVARD 9, MIDDLEBURY 0
Harvard hadn’t played Middlebury since 1980, but the team didn’t miss a beat yesterday. The Crimson easily handled its opponent, not losing a single game in the second match of the night.
“We really are a bit of a powerhouse,” Crimson coach Mike Way said. “It was just business—getting on with it, executing the game plan, and coming away with a score line that reflects the strength of our team.”
“It wasn’t hard for us, but it was a good experience,” Guruge added. “It’s good to play a lot of different schools.”
Although this was the second consecutive game for the Crimson, Way said fatigue was not a factor because of the team’s early-season focus on fitness.
“We train pretty hard in the fall and then taper off in the spring because that’s when we have all the really tough matches,” Guruge said.
“We’ve been training for months, and everyone came to play today and played really well,” junior Laura Gemmell added. “Playing back-to-back didn’t rattle us at all.”
HARVARD 8, DARTMOUTH 1
Ivy League rival Dartmouth proved to be no match for Harvard in its first match of the evening, as only three of the eight Crimson wins went beyond the minimum three games.
“Dartmouth is a good school,” Guruge said. “They have some good players, but we’ve been training hard. There were some long rallies, but everyone managed to just pull through.”
The only loss came at the No. 9 spot, with freshman Yuleissy Ramirez dropping a tight 3-0 match against Katherine Nimmo, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7.
In addition to moving up because of two teammates not traveling, Ramirez also climbed up a spot in place of injured co-captain Cece Cortez.
The Crimson was also without freshman and 2010 World Junior Champion Amanda Sobhy, who would likely play at the number one spot but is ineligible for the first semester.
Despite those losses, the visitors were able to take care of business against their two lower-ranked opponents.
“There’s always a little bit of added stress when you are a higher ranking and you are expected to win,” assistant coach Luke Hammond said. “The women handled themselves very well. They were all very poised, and they did a nice job.”
At the number one spot for the Crimson, Gemmell—who missed Harvard’s first two matches—started off her season strong with a 3-1 win against the opposing Dartmouth No. 1, Corey Schafer, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-1.
“She was a really good runner, and we had a good match,” said Gemmell of her opponent.
The early part of the women’s squash season for the Crimson does not usually include many highly contested matches, as more focus is placed on building fitness. But overall, the team was happy with its play in Hanover.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the way the girls played tonight,” Hammond said.
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