Good things have come in threes for the Princeton women’s squash team, which clinched its third straight national championship title with three wins at the Howe Cup in Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 15. Following an 8–1 quarterfinal victory over Williams and a tight 5–4 win over Trinity in the semifinals, the Tigers came up big in the finals with their second 5–4 win over Harvard.
The team headed to Cambridge just one week after beating Harvard at Jadwin Gym. “We felt like Harvard held a slight advantage playing at home [for the finals],” head coach Gail Ramsay said. But tri-captain Aly Brady ’09 was confident. “We weren’t content with just beating Harvard for the Ivy League title,” she said. “We wanted it all.”
Big wins by Emery Maine ’10, Katie Giovinazzo ’12, and Neha Kumar ’10 put the Tigers up 3–1. Nikki Sequeira ’11 and Amanda Siebert ’10, Princeton’s No. 1 player, surged from behind in two intense five-game matches to grab the title.
The women set their preseason goals high, knowing that each of the top five teams would be competitive. “It would all come down to who played best on the given day,” tri-captain Maggie O’Toole ’09 said.
“The team never mentally accepted how good they were,” Ramsay said of her Tigers, who finished with a perfect 13–0 record. “They were always trying to prove it, and I think that that made a difference in the way the team approached the finals.”
Princeton men’s squash won its fourth consecutive Ivy League title but swallowed a heartbreaking loss to Trinity in the national championship final at Princeton Feb. 22. After a decisive 8–1 victory over Rochester in the semifinals, the Tigers came up short in an epic six-hour match, losing 5–4 in their attempt to avenge a 5–4 loss to Trinity Feb. 14.
The teams were tied at 1–1 when tri-captain Hesham El Halaby ’09 held onto an early lead in the fifth game and put Princeton ahead 2–1. In a series of hard-fought matches, David Canner ’10 and Kelly Shannon ’12 produced Tiger victories while Trinity won three contests to knot the team score at 4–4.
The decisive match pitted senior tri-captain and three-time Ivy League Player of the Year Mauricio Sanchez against Trinity’s Baset Chaudhry, the defending individual national champion. In an intense, back-and-forth contest, Chaudhry prevailed, winning the fifth game 9–5.
“Not one player walked off the court with extra effort left to give,” El Halaby said. “I’m proud of everyone for giving it their absolute best and for conducting themselves with the utmost class and sportsmanship.”
The senior class of Sanchez, Wong, and El Halaby is the first to bring home four Ivy League titles at Princeton. “This class of seniors has been incredibly special. Not only are they great squash players, but they are great leaders, hard workers, and absolutely class people,” head coach Bob Callahan ’77 said. “These seniors have raised the bar for us and for all future teams on what we can accomplish.”
Sarah Harrison ’09 is a politics major from Richmond, Va.