Freshmen lead squash teams in CSA Individual Nationals

Media Credit: Matt Dynes | Staff Photographer

Freshman Zoe Foo Yuk Han swings at a ball during CSA Individual Nationals game Friday.

Squash hosted 32 teams from across the nation in the College Squash Association Individual Championships for the first time in program history last weekend.

For both of GW’s programs, first-year players led the competition. Freshmen Zoe Foo Yuk Han and Mohammad Alterki were two of the three Colonials who were still competitive in the tournament’s main draw by Saturday afternoon.

“They’re mature beyond their years,” head coach Wendy Lawrence said. “They don’t get rattled as a lot of freshmen do, and they’re just incredibly talented players who we were lucky enough to recruit.”

Foo Yuk Han represented GW in the final match in the Halloran B Division East bracket Sunday, where she defeated Columbia’s Madeline O’Connor 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9 – accomplishing the goal she set before the weekend.

“For this weekend, I’m hoping to win this one for them and get All-American – my first individual win hopefully,” Foo Yuk Han said.

On the men’s side, Alterki lost in the semifinal round of the Molloy B Division North bracket Saturday to Trinity’s Omar Allaudin 11-5, 5-11, 12-10, 12-10.

A total of six men’s players and three women represented the Colonials in the tournament, including junior Moudy Abdel-Maksoud – who had already earned All-American honors heading into the weekend. He competed in the A Division Pool Trophy and dropped both of his matches in three straight sets in the first day of competition.

The six men’s players – who, as a team, upset No. 10 Yale in the Hoehn Cup finals last week to earn the highest national ranking in program history – were the most Colonials to compete in CSA individuals in program history.

Heading into the season, Lawrence said she had two goals for the men’s program: earn a top-10 national ranking and win the national division title. The team grabbed a No. 9 national ranking after their national division win against Yale.

The Hoehn Cup victory gave the Colonials a fire in their bellies heading into the individual matches, Abdel-Maksoud said.

“It makes you want to play more, it makes you more excited,” he said. “You want to keep playing more because you’re still winning and you’re still having that celebration thing. Makes you appreciate the sport more than when you’re losing.”

Freshman Inaki de Larrauri Coral defeated Dickinson freshman Frank Goossens in the Molloy South bracket before losing to Trinity freshman Ziad Sakr to end his weekend Friday. Freshman Salim Khan also won his first match in three sets Friday in the Molloy East bracket before losing later in the day and finishing his season.

After Friday victories, Alterki and senior Oisin Logan continued playing into Saturday in the semi-finals of their brackets. Logan lost to Sakr 10-12, 11-3, 11-7, 11-9.

“It’s great,” Logan said. “It’s my fourth year competing at it, so nice way to go in and out.”

Senior Abby Shonrock, sophomore Engy Elmandouh and Foo Yuk Han all represented the women’s side, competing in the B Division Holleran Cup.

Shonrock advanced to the Holleran North consolation bracket and Elmandouh advanced to the Holleran West consolation bracket Saturday after splitting their matches Friday.

Elmandouh competed in the consolation finals Sunday, where she bested Princeton sophomore Madison Soukup in five sets. Shonrock ended her squash career Saturday in the consolation semifinals to Tigers junior Isabel Hirshberg 11-6, 11-4, 11-8

“I was really excited initially just to qualify, it’s a huge honor,” Shonrock said. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m just going to play my heart out, play my best and leave it all on the court,’ especially since it’s my last weekend as a senior, so this is the last huge squash weekend for me.”

For both teams, the switch from team play to individual matches was a mental adjustment. Both programs competed in solely team contests throughout the season, so Abdel-Mouskad said playing for themselves was “weird.”

“It doesn’t give you the extra push for your teammates,” he said. “When you see your teammate busted his butt just playing out there as much as he can, that kind of gives you an extra push or urgency to keep fighting.”

Playing on GW’s home courts gave the team an overlooked advantage in the tournament, he added.

“It’s a major factor and factoring the shape of the game,” he said. “Having it here is honestly the best thing that could’ve happened.”

For Lawrence, hosting the tournament meant getting GW and D.C. on the map in terms of recruiting for both programs.

On the men’s side, Lawrence said her expectations were exceeded during the year – especially by the freshmen who anchor the middle of GW’s lineup. But she also said she sees a chance at redemption for the women’s team next season and that the young team was disappointed with the season’s results, having lost matches by a slim margin.

“There’s a lot of talent there,” Lawrence said. “It just needs to be a little more directed.”

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