Note: Emma Smith ’22 is an Assistant Features Editor at The Argus.
Both the men’s and women’s teams kicked off the year with a Saturday matinée against Tufts. Last season began in a similar fashion, with the Jumbos beating the women’s team 9–0 and the men’s team 8–1. This year’s game was a step in the right direction, though not offering a fully satisfying result for either of these teams.
While the men’s squad fell to Tufts 7–2 on Saturday, there are a lot of positives to take away from the match. Starting at the top of the ladder, Sean Choi ’21 delivered a spirited performance, winning in three sets. Despite Tufts’ No. 1 player begging for fouls the entire match, Choi remained composed and won crucial game points in the first game, which went to tiebreakers and was eventually won 14–12.
In the No. 2 slot, first year John Sutherby went to five games against his foe, a promising start to his Cardinals career. Shanay Sanghavi ’23 also had a strong game, winning in five sets in the first match of his Wesleyan career while slotted third in the ladder.
While Tufts swept the rest of the ladder, the Red and Black have to feel encouraged by the strong play at the top of their ladder. Moving forward, with a deep lineup that includes nine first years, they will certainly be able to determine the best positions.
On the women’s team, the Cardinals suffered a 6–3 loss but also have numerous takeaways that should leave them feeling optimistic. Starting at the top of the ladder was a spirited match from junior Aditi Prasad. After going down two sets, the No. 1 recovered with a superb comeback to win the match in five games.
“Aditi’s match was fun to watch because it was really close,” Carly Blue ’22, a member of the team, said. “It was really good squash, and I’m proud of how she played.”
If Prasad can continue to play like that, the team should have a decisive advantage at the top of the ladder. Like the men’s team, the women also grabbed a match in the No. 3 position, behind senior leader Josie Russ. Russ laid waste to her competition, winning in three games.
The other win from the Cardinals came from the No. 9 position in the ladder from Emma Smith ’22. Despite not being favored by the U.S. Squash ratings, Smith pulled out a 3–0 victory.
“I would say I’ve never really put much stake in U.S. Squash rankings,” Smith said. “While rankings can be a somewhat helpful comparison going into a match, they by no means dictate the outcome.”
While 6–3 may seem like a convincing victory for the Jumbos, in reality, the match was a lot closer than the final score line suggests. Both Natasha Feenstra ’21 and Annie Roach ’22 competed in hard fought five-game matches.
On the whole, the Cardinals battled throughout the day.
“Honestly, every match was really entertaining, and everybody worked really hard for every point,” Blue said. “Many games…went well over 11 points.”
Although the Cardinals would have liked to leave Saturday with a win, they were still happy with the match.
“I’m really happy with how the first match went, and I think the team would agree,” Blue said. “The match was a lot closer than it was when we played them first last year. Also, the games that we did lose were really close. I’m confident that we can beat them if we meet them again this season!”
Smith shared Blue’s enthusiasm.
“I was very happy with how the team played,” Smith said. “We’ve been working hard during the off-season on skills and especially focusing on fitness, and I think that this really showed in our match—people were hustling and never giving up on the ball. This season’s 3–6 result, as compared to last season’s 0–9 against Tufts, is a true testament to our efforts.”
Coming off a strong off-season—and already faring better than last season’s campaign—should excite the teams about the season ahead. The Cards’ next matches come the weekend of the Nov. 23, when both the men’s and women’s teams face off against Bowdoin. The Polar Bears will be facing extinction if the Cardinals continue to soar.
John Vernaglia can be reached at email@example.com.