Title Defense Comes Up Short

Close But Not Close Enough
Emily A Periera

Title defense comes up short as the No. 2 Harvard women's squash team loses in the finals of the CSA Team Championships against top-ranked Yale.

In the 2010-2011 season, the third time was unfortunately not the charm for the Harvard women’s squash team.

After losing narrowly to Yale in pre- and regular-season matchups, the Crimson thought it was ready to face the Bulldogs again in the CSA Team Championship final and come away with the Howe Cup. Harvard (11-2, 5-1 Ivy) instead experienced another heartbreaking 5-4 loss on Sunday, failing to defend its CSA title from last year. With that, the Bulldogs (17-0, 6-0) end their undefeated season with the Ancient Eight title and CSA team trophy.


Yale reached the final match of the Howe Cup tournament in a similar fashion as the Crimson—the Bulldogs beat No. 8 Dartmouth, 9-0, and then No. 5 Princeton, 6-3

But the match between the top-two squads in the nation was much closer.

“It came down to the last match again,” said captain No. 13 Alisha Mashruwala. “It was a very sad loss because everyone fought so hard and played with so much heart.”

After the first rotation of senior Alexandra Zindman, junior No. 37 Cece Cortes, and Mashruwala came off the court, Harvard was down, 2-1, with the only win coming from a four-frame battle between Cortes and sophomore No. 46 Katie Ballaine.

The next rotation saw senior No. 29 Bethan Williams, junior No. 7 Nirasha Guruge, and sophomore No. 17 Natasha Kingshott take the court.

“Kingshott lost in a heartbreaking 3-2 match,” Cortes said. “She came back from being down 2-1 to tie it, but the other player was very fit and on today … It was a lot closer than the match score makes it out to be.”

Down 4-2, the Crimson had three matches left to seal the win.

No. 1 sophomore Laura Gemmell and No. 42 sophomore Sarah Mumanachit upped the ante when they knotted the match at four apiece; the championship then rested squarely on the shoulders of senior No. 9 June Tiong.

“[Tiong] played a beautiful game,” Cortes said. “She’s one of the most beautiful players to watch—she’s great tactically.”

It was a 13-11 tiebreaker in the fourth frame that finally handed the Bulldogs the Howe Cup.

“At the end of the day, someone had to win, and that unfortunately wasn’t us,” Mashruwala said.