When GW’s squash programs head to Charlottesville, Va. to play in the first-annual Mid-Atlantic Squash Conference Championship this weekend, the tournament’s organizer will be on the sidelines coaching the Colonials.
Assistant coach Anderson Good launched the two-day tournament that will take place over the weekend. The championship will bring together five varsity squash programs from various divisions to compete in the growing sport.
Good said he came up with the idea for the tournament about a year and a half ago so schools with unaffiliated varsity squash programs or teams in conferences with little-to-no other competition could compete.
“It was just so blatantly in front of me that it was like, ‘Alright, if nobody’s going to do it, I will,’” Anderson said.
On the women’s side, the Colonials will face No. 18 Dickinson and No. 20 Franklin and Marshall before rematching against No. 9 Virginia, a team GW fell to 7–2 Jan. 23. The men will face four opponents: No. 19 MIT, No. 16 Franklin and Marshall, No. 25 Dickinson and will see No. 10 Virginia for the second time this season.
Anderson said he will continue the tournament annually in hopes of adding infrastructure to a sport that is still trying to grow and gain traction from players, programs and fans.
“In other sports, rivalries are all rooted in your conference history, so you got to start somewhere,” Anderson said.
Anderson said when he started reaching out to the coaches of other schools to put his plan into motion, the response was positive and schools were eager to start competing in matches.
“It’s basically the mold of unaffiliated varsity programs,” Anderson said. “We’re just trying to create a conference, start these rivalries.”
The Colonials will be playing against multiple opponents in one day at the championship, which will help both programs prepare for play in the College Squash Association Team Nationals and CSA Individual Nationals in February and March, respectively.
“Playing three or four matches on a weekend, that mirrors what we’ll be doing at nationals where we play three matches over the course of three days,” head coach Wendy Lawrence said. “This will be our only other shot to have that strong, long schedule before nationals.”
Lawrence said the Colonials are capable of taking two wins over the weekend but will be tested against Virginia.
Heading into the championship, both the men’s and women’s teams are coming off sweeps against top competitors last weekend. But senior Brooke Feldman said the experience playing against some of the top-10 teams in the country has helped them gain exposure and experience against strong programs.
“It’s been good experience to play people at a higher level,” Feldman said. “Going into this weekend, we feel a lot more confident playing teams ranked around where we are.”
On the men’s side, the Colonials enter the weekend’s competition with a reconfigured ladder. Senior Moudy Abdel-Maksoud will make his return to the ladder this weekend after spending nearly a month out of the lineup, and freshman Ben Sim will see his second week of competition for the Colonials after joining the roster last weekend.
“When we get these players back, it gives us more confidence as well as adds skill to the lineup,” sophomore Salim Khan said.
With Abdel-Maksoud and Sim returning to the ladder, Lawrence said the team will get a second shot against Virginia – a team that beat GW 6–3 earlier this month – with a “stronger roster” making them capable of capturing “the first MASC trophy in the world.”
“The men can very reasonably come away winning the event,” Lawrence said.
Khan said the team has been tested mentally and physically at every spot on the ladder so far this season, which has prepared the team for competition going forward.
“I’m feeling pretty strongly about the team, where we’re at right now, both individually and as a group,” Khan said.
The Colonials return to action Saturday with men’s squash taking the court at 10 a.m. against MIT and women’s squash competing against Dickinson at noon in Charlottesville, Va.