Virginia and Princeton downed men’s squash while women’s squash suffered the same fate against Princeton this weekend.
The No. 8 men’s squad (1–1) fell to the No. 9 Cavaliers (5–0) Friday and the No. 4 Tigers (2–0) Sunday in 7–2 decisions. Princeton’s women’s squad (1–0), ranked No. 3 in the nation, defeated the No. 15 women’s team (1–1) Sunday 8–1.
“It’s a great bar,” head coach Anderson Good said. “These are two hard teams, and that this is the level where we want to be, and I don’t think we’re all that far away from it.”
Men’s squash fell to Virginia 7–2 Friday in its first loss of the season. The matchup marked the first leg of the Washington-Jefferson Cup, an annual competition between Virginia and the men’s and women’s squads.
Good said the team’s ladder shifted from its match against Georgetown, which caused players to compete at different levels on the ladder.
“With that being the lens this is being looked through, I think this is terrific,” Good said. “There was still some adjusting to this higher level of play, but all in all, very strong from the two matches from the men.”
Senior Jamie Oakley, who plays in the No. 3 spot, and junior Inaki De Larrauri, who plays in the No. 5 rung, earned the two GW victories Friday. Oakley won his first two games and lost in the third before coming back to win the fourth 11–6, while De Larrauri won in three tough games, two of which went into extra points.
Five games extended past 11 points, and GW clinched three hard-fought games. Freshman Ian Blatchford, junior Luke Stauffer and freshman Karim Thabet pushed their matches to five games but fell short of the wins at the No. 9, No. 8 and No. 4 spots, respectively.
Blatchford said the team’s preseason training allowed the squad to compete in the long games.
“Well, the beep test we had to do definitely helps there,” Blatchford said. “But personally, I find myself in five-set matches a lot, and you just find it deep down somewhere, just the drive to keep going and win.”
The Colonials fell to the Tigers on both the men’s and women’s sides Sunday.
Princeton’s men’s squad defeated the Colonials 7–2 with wins from Oakley and Blatchford. Both games went to five sets, and Oakley earned his second win of the weekend.
“We knew that Princeton was going to be tough, but all in all, it was great,” Good said. “And a lot of the things that we’ve been trying to work on in practice, I directly saw improved in both the men and the women.”
The men’s squad’s matches were hard fought with victories only coming from five-game matches. Four other matches went to four games and Thabet, playing in the No. 4 spot on the ladder, pushed his match to five games before falling to sophomore Daelum Mawji.
Oakley said the men’s team lacked toughness this week, which proved to be the difference-maker against Virginia and Princeton.
“Mental toughness comes into it a lot,” Oakley said. “I think we’re all physically there, we’ve been training a lot for this, but you know, when it comes to game day, it’s who’s mentally tougher on the court.”
On the women’s side, the Tigers defeated the Colonials 8–1, with junior captain Zoe Foo Yuk Han earning the only victory in the No. 1 spot on the ladder.
Foo Yuk Han earned her victory in only three games, with senior Engy Elmandouh taking a game against junior Emme Leonard before falling 3–1 in the No. 2 spot on the ladder. The remaining Colonials were cleanly swept in three games.
“We were coming up against one of the top teams in the country, so obviously we weren’t really expected to win the game,” Foo Yuk Han said. “Coming in we felt really confident, especially with our first win over Georgetown. So I think that boosted the energy and our motivation to do really well.”
Elmandouh said that while the team lost Sunday, it gained confidence to take on higher-ranked competition and will use that momentum against Virginia.
“It’s always very exciting for the team, because we have this rivalry that fuels us every time, so no matter what match we just came off of, it just keeps the fire burning and it keeps us pushing even harder because we just want it so bad,” Elmandouh said.
The women’s squad will host Virginia Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The men’s team is back in action against Pennsylvania Saturday at 11 a.m.