The Smith College Squash Team heads into the 2012 Howe Cup with several formidable challenges:
Tough Opponents. Seconded seeded Smith (ranked 16th in the country) has a very tough path to the Epps Cup Championship to be held at Harvard University this coming weekend, February 24-26, 2012. Club teams are always an unknown quantity as their rankings are notoriously inaccurate due to few matches played – the team was blindsided in the second round last year by eventual winner Georgetown – this year’s first round opponent is the University of Virginia.
If the team gets past UVA they will play Seven Sister’s opponent Vassar. Smith lost their season opener to Vassar 6-3, and squeaked by a very tough squad on February 4th at the Seven Sister’s Squash Championship by the narrowest of margins: 5-4. Here is the score card from that match – note that eight of the matches went four or five games:
If the Smith team gets by Vassar in the semi-finals on Saturday, they will probably face #1 seed William Smith in the Finals. Smith beat WS by a score of 7-2 at the Wesleyan Invitational in early December, but they had added four players into their line-up (most from Junior Semester abroad) by the time they beat Smith 6-3 at the Smith Invitational on January 28. The team will have to play their best to reverse this score. Here is the score card from that match – note that four of the WS wins went the full five games – as did Jen Krain’s win at the #3 position:
Most teams have minor injuries and sickness at this point in the season – and the Smith Squash team is no exception:
- Senior #7 Catie Blunt is recovering from a vertebral fracture (two cortisone shots in January) and so has seen only limited practice time and is under strict instructions not to run for the ball!
- #5 sophomore Helen Queenan has had a bad heel calcaneous bruise since Seven Sisters and has also seen limited practice (but lots of bike intervals);
- 2012 CSA Wetzel nominee (best player who started at College) Senior Co-Captain #2 Clair Oblamski just picked up a severe chest and painful ear infection and will be a doubtful starter for Friday morning.
Last year the team defeated Wellesley 5-4 in the 3rd/4th playoff on Sunday – despite the challenges the team is hoping to go all the way and improve to take first in the Epps Division (for a 15th Division III National ranking).