Amanda Sobhy is expected to make her season debut Wednesday night (Gil Talbot).
The No. 1 Harvard women's squash team returns to action in the New Year by hosting No. 13 Bates Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Last Time Out
The Crimson continued its early season dominance, picking up its third shutout in as many opportunities by knocking off Williams, 9-0, Dec. 5 in the Murr Center. The Crimson swept six of the nine matches on the evening and only one went to five games in the rout. Freshman Saumya Karki blanked Ellie O'Neill, 11-8, 11-8, 11-2, at the No. 3 position to earn her third win of the year, while Megan Murray won 11-3, 12-10, 11-6 to up her record to 3-0 as well.
Related Article: No. 1 Women's Squash Overpowers No. 10 Williams, 9-0
The Crimson is looking to go 4-0 for the ninth consecutive year after dropping its fourth contest of the 2003-04 season to Trinity. Harvard has also come out on the winning side in its season opener in all 38 years of its existence after blanking Boston College, 9-0, in this year's lid lifter. The team has also started 3-0 in 35 consecutive years after dropping its second match of the 1973-74 season to Wellsley, 4-3.
Harvard has shutout Boston College, Dartmouth and Williams to begin 2012-13, winning all 27 matches. It is the ninth time in program history that Harvard has started the year by blanking its first three opponents, and the program record for consecutive shutouts to start a season is six, accomplished by the 2010-11 squad. This year's team is also within striking distance of the program record for consecutive shutouts (seven in 1992-93) and single season shutouts (10 in 2011-12).
The four freshmen have made a significant impact through the first three matches of the 2012-13 season, as the quartet is a combined 8-0. Isabelle Dowling and Saumya Karki are both 3-0, while Michelle Gemmell and Allie Sperry were both victorious in their only appearance of the season thus far.
Assistant coach Luke Hammond is now blogging to give fans an inside perspective of the Harvard men's and women's squash teams. The blog will be periodically updated throughout the season, recapping the latest results and highlighting other interesting tidbits about the squad.
Related Link: Harvard Squash Blog
The Crimson has currently won 20 consecutive matches dating back to last season, which is the fifth longest streak in program annals; however, this year's Harvard squad has an opportunity to move into second place on the all-time list. The three win streaks that the 2012-13 team has an opportunity to surpass this season are 21 (2009-2011), 23 (1983-1986) and 26 (1986-89). The program's longest winning streak is 70 matches, running from Feb. 19, 1992 to Feb. 1, 1998.
About No. 13 Bates
The Bobcats enter their match against Harvard with a 2-2 mark overall. Bates dropped its first two matches of the season to George Washington, 5-4, and Penn, 9-0, before blanking Bucknell, 9-0, and breezing past Tufts, 8-1; however, the Bobcats have not played in over a month with their last match on Nov. 30.
Harvard leads the all-time series, 2-0. Harvard won the inaugural meeting, Dec. 20, 1999, 9-0, before sweeping the second, 9-0, Jan. 19, 2011.
The Crimson jumps back into Ivy League play Jan. 12 and 13 with trips to Penn and Princeton.
Despite losing two All-Americans in Cece Cortes and Nirasha Guruge to graduation, the Crimson still returns three All-Americans from last year's team. Sophomore and defending national champion Amanda Sobhy is back for her second campaign after posting a 15-0 record last season. She is joined by 2010 national champion Laura Gemmell, who has been a first team All-America selection each of her three years in Cambridge, and team co-MVP and second team All-American Haley Mendez. Overall, the Crimson returns seven of its top nine for 2012-13.
New Kids on the Block
Four freshmen will join the Crimson in its attempt to repeat this year. Saumya Karki, Michelle Gemmell, Isabelle Dowling and Allie Sperry are all expected to make an immediate impact for Harvard. Karki and Gemmell are projected to play in the top six this season, while Dowling will compete for a spot in the lower third of the lineup. Sperry was a late addition to the squad, walking on just prior to the beginning of the season to pick up a win at BC.
Related Article: Three Newcomers Added to Women's Squash for 2012-13
Senior Laura Gemmell is joined on the squad this year by her younger sister, Michelle. Isabelle Dowling is the third member of her family to play squash at Harvard, as her mother, Diana Edge '88, and father, Joseph Dowling '87, both suited up for the Crimson. Senior co-captain Sarah Mumanachit's older sister, Sandra '10, was also a four-year member of the squad.
Still the One
In the CSA preseason rankings, the Crimson was selected as the favorite to repeat as national champions. Harvard is followed by archrival Yale and Trinity in the preseason projection, the teams it defeated in the finals and semifinals at last year's CSA Team Championships. In the subsequent polls, Harvard has remained atop the standings with the Bulldogs and Bantams still sitting at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
Related Articles: CSA Tabs Women's Squash as Preseason Number One
Seniors Natasha Kingshott and Sarah Mumanachit were both elected team captains prior to the start of the season. Kingshott posted a 13-4 mark last season, playing in the three through six spots in the lineup, while Mumanachit went 15-2 primarily out of the seven hole.
Leading the Way
Mike Way, The Gregory Lee '87 and Russell Ball '88 Endowed Coach for Squash at Harvard University, returns for his third season. In just over two years in Cambridge, his women's teams have gone a combined 30-2 (.938), including last year's 17-0 mark. Assistants Reg Schonborn and Luke Hammond return for the 2012-13 season.
Harvard concluded a perfect 2011-12 season in impressive fashion, defeating No. 2 Yale, 8-1, in the College Squash Association Championship match to end the year with a 17-0 mark and capture the program's 13th national title. The Crimson swept six of the nine matches after narrowly beating the Bulldogs, 5-4, to claim the Ivy title earlier in the year.