Squash hosts NESCAC Championships for 1st time

By Sterling Xie '16

The NESCAC squash tournament came to Clinton, NY for the first time in its history on Friday.  Hamilton College hosted the three-day conference championship, an 11-team tournament that boasted some of the best squash teams in the nation, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

Playing on their home courts, both Hamilton’s men’s and women’s teams pulled through with solid showings.  Though the fourth-seeded women’s team lost to Middlebury after earning a first-round bye, the Continentals rebounded to defeat Wesleyan 8-1 and Amherst 5-4 to finish fifth overall.

The fifth-place result matches Hamilton’s best showing in the women’s NESCAC tournament, as the team also came in fifth at the 2012 tournament.  Co-captain Laura Russell ’14 believes the home-court advantage played a part in propelling the Conts to their stellar result, noting, “It was amazing competing at home. Having all of the fans come support us was really great...It is so nice to have your friends and professors supporting you, especially at such important matches like the NESCACs.”

Fellow senior captain Hillary Kolodner ’14 went 3-0 during the tournament, the only Hamilton player to go undefeated.  Her five-set thriller (11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 4-11, 17-15) over Amherst’s Cori Johnson turned out to be the deciding point in Hamilton’s victory.  Kolodner believes the crowd was the decisive X-factor that gave her the extra juice needed to earn the win.  “Looking through the glass wall and seeing so many fans…really helped me pull through in the fifth game when I was exhausted,” she reminisces.  “We beat Amherst 5-4, so it was really close and I really think that extra support gave all of us an extra final push to give it our all in the tough matches.”

Other players to win at least two matches include Hilary Gray ’15, Kelsey Bogle ’14, Rachel Newman ’16, Lindsay Arader ’16 and Elizabeth Morris ’15.  With five seniors graduating, the Continentals will have a lot to replace in 2014-15.  Nevertheless, the second fifth-place result in three years gives the team a solid foundation to build off of as they seek to claw their way up to the levels of other NESCAC juggernauts.

Unfortunately, like the women’s team, the ninth-seeded Hamilton men’s team faltered in their first match, falling 6-3 to Colby College, but they bounced back from the initial setback to win two consecutive matches.  The Continentals bested Connecticut College 6-3, then crushed Tufts 7-2 to place ninth overall.

Captain Martin Bawden ’14 was a 3-0 winner in his match against Connecticut College, and was the top seed for Hamilton.  Though disappointed to lose the first-round match, Bawden is impressed with how the team came backto win their next two matches.  “I was really happy how we as a team were able to overcome our loss to Colby on Friday night and respond with two strong statement wins against Conn College and Tufts,” says Bawden.  “One of the hardest things to do…is to come back from defeat and disappointment.  Our ability to do so shows a lot about the character of the guys we have on the team.”

Top performers included Teddy Black ’15 and Marc Dudzik ’16, both of whom went 3-0 over the weekend, as well as the trio of Tucker Hamlin ’17, Mac Pivirotto ’15 and Peter Harrison ’15 who won twice.  The back-to-back wins snapped a tough streak for the Conts, who had lost five of their previous six matches following a 5-3 start.

Both teams finished their regular seasons with matches at St. Lawrence on Feb. 4.  The cruised to a 6-3 win, while the men lost 9-0 against the fourth-ranked Saints.  Next, the top four players on each team will head to the NCAA Division III championships from Feb. 7 to 9 at Harvard University, and the teams will conclude their seasons at the CSA Team and Individual National Championships from Feb. 14-16 and Feb. 28 to March 2, respectively.


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