Haley Mendez is 1-0 for the Crimson this year (Gil Talbot).
The No. 1 Harvard women's squash team steps back out of conference play and hosts No. 10 Williams at the Murr Center Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
Last Time Out
Harvard ran its win streak to 19 with a 9-0 win against No. 8 Dartmouth last Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the Murr Center. Freshman Michelle Gemmell made her collegiate debut in the victory, posting a 3-0 win over Melina Turk. Harvard swept seven of the nine matches, upping its total to 16 of 18 in 2012-13.
Harvard has 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 opener. The Crimson has also gone 3-0 in 35 straight seasons after dropping its second match of the season to Wellsley, 4-3, in 1973-74, which is the only time in the program's 37 previous years that the team has not gone 3-0 to start the season.
Harvard has shutout both Boston College and Dartmouth to begin 2012-13, winning all 18 matches. It is the 14th time in program history that Harvard has started the year by blanking both of its opponents. The program record for consecutive shutouts to start a season is seven, accomplished by the 1984-85 squad.
The Crimson has currently won 19 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. 10 Williams
The Ephs enter Wednesday's contest on a two-game losing streak after dropping its final two matches of the weekend to No. 3 Trinity and No. 4 Princeton, 9-0. Williams two wins this year have come against Hamilton and Drexel, both by 9-0 margins. Their other losses have been to No. 7 Stanford (8-1), No. 5 Penn (9-0) and No. 6 Cornell (9-0).
After dropping the first four meetings in the series, Harvard has won the last 30 matches between the two squads. The Crimson has swept the last five meetings, 9-0, including last year's Nov. 11 showdown.
Harvard concludes its three-game homestand Jan. 9 against Bates at 6 p.m.
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.
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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.
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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.