Women's Squash Wins Walker Cup at Nationals
Issue   |   Tue, 02/25/2014 - 22:47

The Lady Jeffs came home champions of the Walker Cup this past weekend at the CSA National Team Championships at Princeton University. 43 teams participated, spread throughout six divisions; 17th-ranked Amherst competed in the C Division as the top seed.

On day one, Amherst nearly shut out 24th-ranked Colby in the first round of play with an 8-1 victory. In the No. 1 spot, Ericka Robertson ’16 played Julia Wolpow of the Mules in five tough games but couldn’t secure the victory, losing, 11-6, 3-11, 11-9, 5-11, 9-11. Spots two through nine featured clean sweeps, however, as all players won their matches by a score of 3-0.

The next day, the Jeffs faced 20th-ranked Bowdoin in the semifinals. The match was hotly contested, and the stakes were high. At the NESCAC Championships earlier this year, Amherst defeated Bowdoin 5-4, so the Polar Bears, reigning Walker Cup champs, were out for revenge against the Jeffs.

Senior captain Lena Rice put the Jeffs ahead early by sweeping her opponent 3-0 in the No. 9 spot. Bowdoin quickly tied it up with a win in the No. 3 spot, as Meyha Sud ’16 fell to Michaela Martin in four games, 7-11, 7-11, 11-6, 6-11. Khushy Aggarwal ’16 and her opponent went back in forth in the No. 6 spot, but Aggarwal triumphed with a 3-2 victory by a score of 6-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-4, 11-7.

Fellow sophomore Corri Johnson increased Amherst’s lead to 3-1 with a 3-1 win in the No. 8 spot over her Polar Bear opponent, but Bowdoin followed suit by tying the match score up at 3-3 thanks to wins in the No. 3 and No. 5 courts, as Arielle Lehman ’15 and Evelyn Kramer ’14 both lost, their respective matches.

With the match tied at three apiece, each team looked to clinch the overall victory, needing at least two out of three wins from the No. 1, No. 4 and No. 7 spots. Taryn Clary ’16 extended her winning streak to nine consecutive matches, as she swept her opponent 3-0 in the No. 7 spot. Robertson, on the other hand, was unable to come out victorious in the top spot, falling to Rachel Barnes in three games.

With the match tied at 4-4, all eyes turned to first-year Tiana Palmer-Poroner in the No. 4 spot, as her match would determine the team’s fate for the remainder of the weekend. The first-year fell into an 0-2 hole, as she lost the first two games to Alden Drake, 6-11, 9-11; however, Palmer-Poroner kept her cool and was able to snag the next three games, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7, to give her team the victory and advance them to the finals.

The Jeffs faced 18th-ranked Franklin & Marshall on Sunday in the championship match. Rice came out on top in her match, defeating Dana Rapisarda, 10-12, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5, to give Amherst the early lead again. Aggarawal added another win, as she swept her opponent in the No. 6 spot. Sud was close to giving her team a 3-0 lead, but she couldn’t get past Roxanne Mead in the No. 3 spot, losing her match in five games.

F&M hung tough, as Elizabeth Gatling defeated Johnson 3-0 in the No. 8 spot, but Kramer answered with a 3-0 win of her own. Lehman put Amherst ahead 4-2 with a 3-0 win as well in the No. 2 spot.

Clary sealed the victory for the Jeffs, notching the fifth win in the No. 7 to end her season on a 10 match win streak with a season total of 15 wins. Palmer-Poroner also came out victorious, sweeping her opponent 3-0, while Robertson couldn’t get past Emily Caldwell in the top spot, losing 3-0.

With a 6-3 victory, the women captured the Walker Cup and justify their national ranking. Though the overall match score was 6-3, Amherst truly had to grind out the victory by fighting for every point, as they only outscored the Diplomats by a total point score of 284-270.

“I am so thrilled to finish my squash career with this big win. I’m incredibly proud of our team. I feel like a of lot players gained a ton of confidence over the course of the season and really stepped it up this weekend, and that made winning the Walker Cup possible,” said Kramer.