Squash goes balls to the wall

Colby men’s and women’s s.quash look to finish their season strong as the calendar flips forward towards the beginning of March. Both teams had tough matchups as they looked to advance to their cup finals this past Saturday. The men played Hobart College while the women faced off against highly-touted Amherst College.

The men’s team attempted to bounce back after a difficult loss to the University of Virginia in the first round of the Summers Cup this past Saturday. The 8-1 loss did not accurately portray the back-and-forth matchup. Will McBrian ’18 had a disappointing loss after leading the match 2-0 going into the third game. Multiple members of the team each took one game before eventually losing the match by a tally of 3-1. The team quickly put the loss behind them and prepared for their consolation match against Hobart.

In what seemed to be an even matchup, the 21st-ranked Mules played valiantly against a tough 24th-ranked Hobart team. The lower part of the lineup proved strong,  leading to a 5-4 victory in favor of the Mules. Andrew Swapp ’18, Matt Epstein ’18, and Gregory Ho ’16 all recorded victories at the seven, eight and nine spots, respectively, to put the Mules in good position for a win. Their victories, in combination with wins from captain CJ Smith ’16 in the two spot and Eliot Gross ’19 in the three spot, gave Colby the edge. Smith, Swapp, and Epstein all collected wins by the commanding score of 3-0. Ho only dropped one game en route to his 3-1 victory, while Gross battled out a 3-2 final. Yuga Koda ’16 lost a tough matchup in the four position by a score of 3-2. The women, however, had a very different start to their tournament.

A huge win over Hamilton energized the Colby women’s squash team. The narrow 5-4 win guaranteed them a top 20 finish for the season, led by  3-0 wins from Devin Mullaney ’18 and Julie Wolpow ’16 in the top two spots. Mikaela Johnson ’16 fought for a great 3-2 victory that eventually gave the Mules the edge they need to win the matchup. Down 10-8 in the decisive fifth game, Johnson came back to win 12-10 and gave her team the win that directly affected their national ranking. Coach Sakhi Kahan said, regarding Johnson’s performance, “It was the best win I’ve seen ever by any Colby squash player in the ultimate pressure situation.”  The women then advanced to their matchup on Saturday against 17th-ranked Amherst. In an unsatisfactory 8-1 loss, the women put up a fight in each position. Helen Bernhard ’19 provided the Mules with the lone victory in the afternoon. Prior to their final matchup of the season, women’s captain Wolpow had high praise for the level of teamwork her team displayed this season. “Despite squash being an individual sport, our team this season was quite the opposite. We embodied true teamwork. Everyone from the number 10 to the number 1 spot worked tremendously hard and cheered one another on.” That kind of collaboration proved useful in their final matchup against Bowdoin.

Both the men and women turned things around on Sunday, finishing the season strong. The men had a defining 7-2 win over Amherst as they clinched the consolation final of the Summers Cup. Koda and Smith attained milestone victories for their careers as Koda won his 60th match while Smith won his 50th. The women also had an impressive Sunday in their close matchup to Bowdoin. Though they lost, they finished 20th nationally for the year. Successful years driven by younger rosters poses well for both Men’s and Women’s Squash for years to come.

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