Julie Cerullo ’13 is sometimes known as one of “the three Cerullos.” The trio, which includes her twin siblings, Ed and Megan, all became top collegiate squash players.
The Cerullos grew up half a block from the Heights Casino, a racquet club in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Julie spent many afternoons there watching her older siblings compete. Ed and Megan each went on to play in the No. 1 spot on their respective teams at Brown. Julie was on the court by age 6, and today she plays at No. 1 on the women’s squash team.
Watching her older siblings taught Cerullo a great deal about how to carry herself on and off the court. That confidence helped when she competed in the 2009 World Junior Women’s Championships in Chennai, India, and won a key match in the first U.S. victory over England in an international competition.
As a freshman, Cerullo was thrust into the Tigers’ No. 1 position when more seasoned players were injured. She’s been in that spot for good since her sophomore year and is now the nation’s fourth-ranked women’s college player, thanks to her powerful strokes and her ability to tailor her strategy to her opponent.
“I’ve learned to really think on my own when I’m out there on the court,” Cerullo said. “In juniors, it’s easy to rely on your coach, but I’ve definitely learned to adjust to my opponent’s game and to really tweak what I’m doing in the moment.”
The Tigers won a string of national championships from 2007 to 2009 but finished fifth, third, and fourth nationally in the last three seasons. With a strong mix of veterans and underclassmen, the No. 4-ranked Tigers are looking to Cerullo, the team’s captain, for leadership.
“I wouldn’t say that she’s one of the really loud voices in the locker room, but when she does talk, you really listen,” said Nicole Bunyan ’15, an athletic player capable of wearing down opponents with long rallies. Bunyan will vie for the No. 2 position with Libby Eyre ’14, who has been limited by a shoulder injury but rarely loses when she plays.
A trip to South Africa over fall break provided a chance for the team to test itself against international competition and helped the players bond.
The Tigers won their first three U.S. matches of the season by perfect 9–0 scores, but their toughest competition will come against Trinity and Ivy League foes in January and February. There is little separation among the nation’s top teams, which means Princeton enters the season with a shot at a title — but also with little margin for error.