Note: Annie Roach ’22 is a Staff Writer for The Argus.
The women’s and men’s squash teams are coming off of decent campaigns in the 2018–19 season that showed significant improvement from years past. The women’s team had impressive matches in both the NESCAC tournament and Walker Cup, while the men’s squad had a strong showing in the Conroy Cup. The women’s team ended with a 9–11 overall record; the men’s finished 8–13. With the success of both of these teams from last year, this winter season could be a cold one for the rest of the ’CAC, as the Cardinals prepare to rampage the league.
While both teams lost strong senior leaders last season, the top of their respective ladders remain intact. Juniors Aditi Prasad and Sean Choi are expected to once again provide strong leadership. Perhaps more importantly, the underclassmen look to provide both teams with an infusion of talent to help the Cards throughout the season.
“I think the freshmen all make great additions to the team,” Carly Blue ’22 said. “They all have been working really hard, and we love having them.”
Something that stood out while talking to Blue was the unity between the men’s and women’s teams. While Wesleyan’s squash program features two extremely strong teams, it is clear how close the whole unit has become.
“While losing so many seniors in the starting lineup has been tough, the upperclassmen have stepped it up both on and off the court,” Choi said. “The addition of new freshmen has been just incredible for us. I don’t think we’ve seen such an ambitious group of individuals pushing each other. I’m just excited to see what they can do and am always grateful for what the seniors have done for me.”
This was echoed by Annie Roach ’22.
“Our captains push us to put in our all every day and set really good examples for us underclassmen,” Roach said. “Our team is on the smaller side, which is actually really nice because I feel like we are able to form strong individual bonds with one another.”
While it is clear that both of these squash teams are clearly in a good mindset entering the season, the work has been going on since the beginning of the school year.
“The off-season was super productive,” Roach said. “We did a lot of lifting and running, and I feel like we are all in prime shape, which will be particularly helpful once we start playing matches.”
Blue added that the team’s workouts helped boost their squash abilities, too.
“We worked in getting better in the off-season, both in improving our overall fitness as well as our technical skills on the squash court,” Blue explained.
After the off-season, Choi is hopeful for the beginning of the season.
“We’ve put in a lot of work since the start of the semester, and to trust that the training we’ve done will translate over is the key to a strong start to the season,” Choi said.
So with this strong off-season under their belts, it is now time to turn to the beginning of the season. The Cardinals start on their home courts against NESCAC rival Tufts on Nov. 16. Last season, the Red and Black also faced Tufts on opening day and were bested by the Jumbos. However, it appears as though this year’s Cardinals are preparing to fly past the competition. The confidence of the cohesive and skilled group emanates from the team.
“I think we’ve all been working hard to push ourselves to the best of our abilities,” Blue said. “We’re a strong group, and that will definitely show in our upcoming matches. I expect us to be in every match throughout the season.”
This competitiveness was a hallmark of the 2018 squad: They were never out of a match, never gave up, and bounced back from any challenges faced along the road, a culture that is sure to help them succeed this season.
“In order to have a strong start to the season, we need to focus on translating our drills into match play and getting into competitive mindsets,” Roach said. “We also need to go into every match believing we have a shot at winning. All of our matches before winter break are at home, which is very exciting since more friends and family can come watch and support us. It’s always so encouraging to me to look out of the glass and see people cheering and fired up.”
This squash team seems prepared for a special run, and in this reporter’s eyes, their ceiling is boundless.
“I think we’re going to exceed our own expectations this season,” Choi said. “Goals for the season is always just placing better than we did last year, and [we] will work towards that.”
John Vernaglia can be reached at email@example.com.