Harvard Women Win National Squash Championship

The team beats Yale in the final.

With an 8-1 trouncing of Yale in the final of the College Squash Association (CSA) tournament on February 26, the Harvard women’s squash team capped a perfect 17-0 season and brought the Howe Cup, symbol of supremacy in women’s squash, back to Cambridge. The Crimson gained its second national championship in three years, and first under head coach Mike Way. Two weeks earlier in New Haven, Harvard had silenced a vocal Bulldog crowd by coming back from a 4-2 deficit to win, 5-4, and take home the Ivy League title. Yale entered this year's CSA tournament as defending champions, having edged the Crimson, 5-4, in last year’s final.

Those previous close matches prepared no one for this year’s rout at Harvard’s Murr Center, in which the Crimson lost only one individual contest, at the #9 position, and in its eight wins surrendered only two games, capturing six by 3-0 margins and the other two at 3-1. On its way to the final, Harvard also blew out Dartmouth and Trinity, both by 9-0 scores, giving the Crimson a 26-1 overall tournament record.

The duel at #6, where Natasha Kingshott ’13 overcame Gwendoline Tilghman of Yale 3-0, was closer than the final score suggests. Kingshott won a close first game, 11-9, but played nearly twice that many points to prevail, 19-17, in the second game, the longest single game a Crimson woman played this season. Both players had game points in the seesaw battle that finally went Kingshott’s way. There was less symmetry at the tops of the lineups. At #3, co-captain Nirasha Guruge ’12 vanquished Yale’s Rhett Nadas, 11-5, 11-2, 11-9 and at #2 Laura Gemmell ’13 steadily ground down Kimberley Hay, 11-9, 11-9, 15-13. In the day’s most one-sided match, at #1, Harvard freshman Amanda Sobhy, who won the World Junior Championship in 2010,  obliterated Camilla Tomlinson of Yale, 11-1, 11-3, 11-1. (“Amanda unquestionably is the best No. 1 [in collegiate women’s squash history],” Way told the Harvard Crimson in January.)

Fittingly enough, Harvard co-captain Cece Cortes ’12 won the match that clinched the victory at #5, a four-game affair that went to Cortes 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-1. A shout went up after she romped in the last game.

Team competition is over now, and all that remains for the Crimson racquetwomen is the CSA national individual championships, held in Amherst, Massachusetts, March 2-4, where Sobhy will be the odds-on favorite to win the individual title.

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