Men’s and women’s squash wraps conference championship, sets sights on nationals

Media Credit: William Stricklett | Photographer

Nikki Pang waits to rally the ball in her match Friday.

Men’s and women’s squash each picked up one win and two losses in last weekend’s Mid-Atlantic Squash Conference (MASC) Championships.

The No. 14 women’s squad (7-14) dropped its first two games to No. 7 Drexel and No. 10 Virginia Friday and Saturday, respectively, before toppling No. 18 Franklin and Marshall Sunday. The No. 14 men’s squad (9-10) bulldozed No. 18 Navy Friday but lost its next two matches to No. 7 Virginia and No. 8 Drexel Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

In a tournament pioneered by head coach Anderson Good, the Colonials played host, along with nearby squash facility Squash on Fire, for the first time in the championship’s two year tenure.

“It was just a great way to not only advertise and showcase squash at GW but also college squash and squash in Washington, D.C.,” head coach Anderson Good said.

Women’s squad drops two of three matches

The Colonials kicked off their first match of the weekend with an 8–1 loss to Drexel (11-6) Friday. Junior Zoe Foo Yuk Han was the only Colonial to pick up a win, defeating freshman Karina Tyma in three games at the No. 1 spot on the ladder.

Junior Vedika Arunachalam, playing at the No. 6 spot on the ladder, was the only Colonial to extend her match to four games. All other Colonials lost in three games.

The women’s squad picked up its second loss of the weekend in a 7–2 tussle with No. 10 Virginia (14-6) Saturday. Foo Yuk Han picked up her second win of the tournament while senior Engy Elmandouh took down freshman Maria Paula Moya at the No. 2 spot in the ladder. All other Colonials fell to the Cavaliers.

Foo Yuk Han and Elmandouh nabbed their wins in five games. Junior Zuha Nazir, playing at the No. 5 spot on the ladder, and Arunachalam extended their matches to four and five games, respectively, before falling to their opponents. All other Colonials fell in three sets.

Good said the squad showed a higher level of focus needed to take on stronger teams like Drexel.

“Earlier in the season, when we played teams with a similar standard to the Drexel’s and the UVA’s, our girls wouldn’t do as well,” Good said. “But this past weekend, it shows their development as players, that they’re able to hang in and compete with some of the best players in the country, and they did so in spades.”

The squad came back Sunday and earned its sole win of the weekend, topping Franklin and Marshall College (8-9) in a 6–3 victory. Losses came at the No. 6, 7 and 8 spots on the ladder, from sophomore Nikki Pang, sophomore Anna Moscovici and freshman Claire Foley, respectively. All other Colonials swept their matches in three games.

“All in all, it was a very productive weekend with some great competition, which is always a good catalyst for improving,” Good said.

Men’s program battles at MASC Championship

On the men’s side, the Colonials picked up their lone win in their first match of the weekend Friday, topping No. 18 Navy (8-13) in an 8–1 victory.

Freshman Moustafa Montaser, freshman Karim Thabet and sophomore Abbas Saeed picked up wins in three games at the No. 1, No. 5 and No. 9 spots on the ladder, respectively.

“Navy’s always really, really tough,” Good said. “You know, they’re obviously very fit, and it makes things so that there’s no real easy match. So the fact that we were able to take them down with an 8-1 win was great.”

The team advanced to the semi-finals Saturday, when it took on No. 8 Virginia (17-4). The Colonials lost the match 8–1, with junior Inaki de Larrauri securing the only win. He beat freshman Cullen Little in three games.

Four Colonials – Thabet, freshman David Valera, senior Juan Laguna and Saeed – extended their matches beyond three games, and Laguna pushed his match to five games before falling to junior William Braff.

The loss placed the men in the consolation semi-finals, where they competed with No. 6 Drexel (10-6) for third place Sunday. The two teams were tied with four wins each moving into the final game, but freshman Matthew Lucente overcame de Larrauri in three sets to secure a 5–4 win for the Dragons.

Montaser, who had held the No. 1 spot on the ladder for the first two days of competition, did not play in Sunday’s match.

On Sunday, No. 1 junior Salim Khan, No. 7 Laguna and No. 8 Saeed won their matches in five games, with Laguna and Saeed coming back from an 0-2 deficit to secure their victories. All five Colonials who lost were downed in three games.

Good said the the team improved from its last match-up with the Dragons, who defeated the Colonials 8–1 last week.

“There were just better shot selections when the pressure would come on,” Good said. “And obviously we had the advantage of being on our home courts, which really helped as well.”

Preparing for the next championship

Both the women and men’s squads will begin preparing for the upcoming College Squash Association Championships. The women’s squad will take a two-week long break before competing in nationals Feb. 21. The men’s program will take the court Feb. 28.

Good said the women will prepare for the upcoming competition by working on patience and anticipating match scenarios. On the men’s side, Good said the team will focus on rallies in upcoming practices.

“It’s really being patient, creating our opportunities, being methodical and tactical in how we’re constructing our rallies, and things that we’ve been working on a lot this year,” Good said. “But now we’re just kind of getting into the specifics and looking for specific areas where we can make adjustments that can be implemented quickly.”

The men’s squad wraps its regular season against Rochester at noon Sunday.

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