Both men’s and women’s squash entered this season with something to prove after losing key cogs from the class of ’16. Fittingly, the teams kicked off their seasons with an important litmus test against Hamilton, a conference rival and team with which both the men and women expected to be competitive. The men’s match turned out to be less competitive than expected, as the Cards rolled the Continentals 8-1. The women, however, were edged in a tight 5-4 heartbreaker.
Chris Hart ’17, making his debut for the men from the No. 1 spot, swept his opponent by fairly comfortable margins. Wesleyan’s top five seniors, Hart, David Sneed (No. 2), Zach Roach (No. 3), Alex Kamisher (No. 4), and Grant Lounsbury (No. 5), all looked comfortable in their wins; only Roach dropped a set from this group. First years Will Bienstock (No. 7) and Alex Dreyfus (No. 9) picked up their first collegiate wins in the match.
The women found themselves in a much more hotly-contested battle. Laila Samy ’18 predictably controlled play from the No. 1 spot and cruised to an easy victory. Ale Lampietti ’19 also picked up a win from the No. 6 spot, while first years Sherly Francois (No. 8) and Sofia Melian-Morse (No. 9) earned their first career wins. With the score knotted at four apiece, attention turned to the fourth spot, where Ali Imperiale ’19 had taken the first two sets from Alex Regan. Under pressure, Regan battled back to take the next three sets and earn a dramatic victory for her team.
The women faced Mount Holyoke College later that day and rebounded nicely, posting a 7-2 victory. All four of the winners against Hamilton improved to 2-0, while Imperiale redeemed herself with a 3-1 win. The two remaining first years on the roster, Josie Russ and Nina Premutico, won their first matches with sweeps from the No. 5 and No. 7 positions, respectively.
On Dec. 3 and 4, the men hosted Bates and Dickinson Colleges, respectively, dropping the first match 8-1 and the second 7-2. The women hosted the same teams while adding William Smith College on the third, for a tough run of three matches in 24 hours. The women snuck out a 5-4 win over William Smith, but was edged 6-3 by Bates and was uncompetitive in an 8-1 loss to Dickinson.
Sneed was the Cardinal men’s lone victory in the Bates match, overcoming a 2-1 deficit to prevail in the fifth set. Lounsbury and Yayha Ladiwala ’19 were competitive, but both fell by scores of 3-1. Kamisher’s absence from the lineup affected the team all the way down the ladder, as young players were forced to move to higher positions in what was already expected to be a difficult match-up. This held true in the loss to Dickinson, as the pair of wins came from Sneed and Roach, two of the three players who ordinarily play above Kamisher.
“I think this weekend was good for us mentally,” Lounsbury said. “We fought hard against Bates, but the loss to Dickinson really puts things in perspective for us as a team. We need to work harder in practice if we want to see them again come nationals. Physically, it was a great test for the younger guys on the team, who are not used to playing two matches in a 24-hour time frame. We definitely have work to do, but I think this group is motivated to push each other to reach our goals.”
Samy salvaged the weekend for the women with a quick win over Gabby Fraser of William Smith. Russ and Premutico followed suit, while Imperiale and No. 2 Abigail Smith ’17 both won competitive matches to secure the team’s second win of the season.
“I was glad I could earn a win for the team,” Imperiale said. “It was a great way to start out the weekend. I played to my strengths, which is my length. My opponent was a hard hitter, so I lifted the ball to the back corners, causing her to move off the T and put the ball in the middle of the court. Then I could take the ball short, forcing my opponent to run on the diagonal, and I was able to win the points.”
Samy was the team’s sole victory against Dickinson and also one of the three wins against Bates. She improved to 4-0 on the season, and has yet to come particularly close to losing a set. Premutico and Melian-Morse notched the team’s two other victories against Bates, in five and three sets, respectively.
Roach was optimistic about the state of the men’s team.
“Despite losing both matches, there are a lot of positives to take away from the weekend,” he said. “Everyone fought hard and competed. We also have a lot to work on, and these two losses will motivate us moving forward. It’s still early in the season, and we eagerly await Kamisher’s return to the lineup in January.”