Last winter, Laila Samy ’18 punctuated squash’s season with a deep run to the semifinals of the NCAA Individual Championships. The women’s team, hoping to qualify for the C Division of the College Squash Association Team Championships, ended up qualifying for the D Division. They rallied to win the D Division for the first time since 2002, marking their third Epps Cup in program history. The decisive win over Dickinson College ended their season on an encouraging note.
“We felt really strong after last season, when we finished on a very positive note,” Ale Lampietti ’19 said. “Right now it looks like we have a really solid group with a lot of potential to carry over that success.”
The men’s team, ranked 19th at the end of the season, qualified for the C Division where they soundly beat Amherst in the first round. The rest of the weekend proved tougher, though. The Cards were bounced the following day by Williams, with Grant Lounsbury ’17 recording the team’s only win. The team then dropped a much-anticipated third-place matchup to the University of Virginia. Guy Davidson ’16 qualified for Individuals but did not attend due to the start of baseball season, leaving Raheem Logan ’16 as the men’s team’s only athlete to compete at Stamford. Logan lost in the first round, ending his collegiate career and the team’s season.
The men’s team may struggle to replace Davidson and Logan, who performed well from the top two lineup spots. Both were named First Team All-NESCAC, while no other men’s players qualified for either the first or the second team.
“Despite losing Guy and Raheem, we are confident in our experience at the top and middle of the ladder and are excited about our young talent filling in at the bottom,” Zachary Roach ’17 said.
Samy was named to both the All-NESCAC and All-American teams in her second collegiate season and is an early favorite for NESCAC Player of the Year this season. Her run at the NCAA Championships last year included wins over the seventh- and second-ranked players in the country and ended with a stellar 19-1 season.
“I’m hoping to win the individual Nationals at the end of the season,” Samy said. “I am also hoping that as a team we beat Colby, which is a team we have been very close to for a long time.”
The women will also lose much of their starting lineup. They must replace Anna Knes ’19 as well as 2016 grads Liza Bayless, Bridget Doherty, Tessa Hill, and Ellen Paik, who all played important roles on the team. They return No. 1 Samy, No. 5 Abigail Smith ’17, No. 6 Ali Imperiale ’19, No. 7 Annie Ferreira ’17, and No. 8 Lampietti. No. 4 Tatum Leclair ’18 will return from her semester abroad and contribute for the bulk of the season.
Lampietti expressed confidence that the team can replace No. 2 Bayless and No. 3 Doherty.
“They were two really valuable players, because they performed so well so high on the ladder,” she said. “But our incoming freshmen are really strong players, and they should be able to help fill those spots and facilitate a smooth transition.”
Outside of Davidson and Logan, most of the men’s starting lineup returns intact. No. 9 Jason Bradner ’16 also leaves the lineup, but will be replaceable thanks to a strong recruiting class. No. 3 Chris Hart ’17, after a strong season behind the team’s two stars, is the heir-apparent to the No. 1 spot. Fellow seniors Alex Kamisher, David Sneed, Roach, and Lounsbury return from the 4-7 spots, respectively. Yahya Ladiwala ’19 is the lone returning non-senior starter, though fellow sophomores Kevin Le and Josh Lane also saw time on the court. At the back of the lineup, the team expects first-years Will Bienstock and Alex Dreyfus to contribute.
Neither team will have much of a warm-up period, as they both travel to NESCAC foe Hamilton on Saturday, Nov. 19 for their first match of the season. The women will also face Mount Holyoke College on the trip. On Dec. 2 through 4, the team will host a round robin tournament against schools including Dickinson, Bates, and William Smith College. The regular season lasts only a few months with the NESCAC tournament set to begin on Friday, Feb. 3, so there is some pressure on the teams to find their identity sooner rather than later. Samy agreed with Lampietti’s assessment of the impact of the rookie class on this transition, for the women’s team.
“I think the freshman class this year is one of the best we’ve had through my three years here,” she said. “They are very focused and hardworking and they come to practice prepared every day, which will really help later in the season. The other good thing is that with them, our bottom of the ladder is going to be very strong which we haven’t had before.”