Insider's Look: Women's Squash Plays at Yale Invitational

NEW HAVEN, CT - Squash is a unique and fast-paced sport that is unknown to the majority of the United States population and the greater Amherst Athletics community. Amherst College women's head coach Tom Carmean has compiled a team chock full of young talent looking to climb the national rankings.

The Lord Jeffs took to the road this weekend to play at the annual Yale Invitational Tournament in New Haven, Conn. Amherst picked up a 9-0 win over NESCAC foe Connecticut College, before dropping heartbreakers against George Washington University and Bowdoin College. Amherst sits at 6-6 on the year after the weekend.

Sophomores Alexandra Dalglish (Fort Washington, PA) and Caitlin Demkin (Warren, NJ) helped provide a look at the team's weekend with a special insider’s look at the Yale Invite.

Caitlin Demkin’s Take on the Conn College Match:

Caitlin Demkin
Describe waking up at 6:50 a.m. on a frigid, January, Saturday morning in one word?-brutal. Still half-asleep, I rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, threw on my uniform, and added some extra necessities, an extra ribbon and headband, into my squash bag.  Before leaving Stone Hall for a 7:30 a.m. team breakfast, I checked the temperature outside: - 10 degrees. I bundled up and briskly trekked to Valentine.

After my ritualistic breakfast of a bowl of Kashi Heart to Heart with a banana, I climbed into the van with my teammates. With our headphones in place, many of us returned to slumber. When I opened my eyes an hour and a half later, I found myself at Yale Gymnasium.

My first view of the Yale squash courts brought back nostalgic memories of High School Nationals. That is when I was first introduced to my now teammates and good friends, Allie Dalglish and Hayley Milbourn; my heart gave a little flutter. Because we were a part of the day’s first round of matches, the courts were still quiet. Our first opponent was Connecticut College, ranked slightly lower than us, but still a competitive adversary.

After our typical team stretching and warm-ups, Connecticut College stepped onto the courts for “intros.” As I looked up towards the viewing area, I saw my parents, younger sister, Taylor, and her friend, Todd, along with several good friends from Pingry. I was glad to see friends and fans – which also meant I had to win.

After watching my captain, Melissa Moulton, win her match decisively, I walked onto the court confident that the match was mine; with my pink and white polka dot hair ribbon and magenta wristband, I felt fiercely intimidating. My first game was slow to start:  sleepy feet, messy shots, frustrating, but I won. My second game, I got into the zone and stepped up my game; my opponent did not, and I won 9-1. During the third game my brain totally de-fogged, my footwork came together, I began to think tactically. My rails straightened, my crosses deepened, and I was able to win 9-1 by serving the ball so that my opponent was tempted to volley the return, her weakest stroke.

The moral of my story is to fight through the sloppy haze and focus on a game plan because the reward of victory is always sweet, and never disappointing.

No need to “boast,” but we did not drop a single match to Connecticut College’s team, beating them in a grand 9-0 sweep. Though the day was young, the Amherst squash girls and Coach Carmean felt accomplished and ready for the tough matches ahead.

Alexandra Dalglish’s Take on GWU and Bowdoin:
After a nice lunch and some time to rest up and explore the town of New Haven a bit, we were back on the courts ready to play what turned out to be our closest match of the weekend. Although GW was ranked two spots below us, we knew that they lost to Mount Holyoke College just 5-4 a few days earlier; a team that we lost to 7-2. Some of us also watched GW challenge the greatly improved Middlebury team earlier that day and we gauged their ability. In the team huddle after warm-ups, I could tell that although our team seemed nervous, but everyone was ready to compete.

Allie Dalglish
Throughout the weekend we played a three court system, which meant that numbers 1,2 and 3 played on the same court, 4, 5 and 6 played on another and 7, 8 and 9 played on a third. This meant that we could support each other much better than we would normally because there were always two girls ready to help out and coach their teammate between games, instead of the usual one. Every player got twice as much individual attention and twice as many eyes watching for her games strengths and weaknesses.

Losing this match was a heartbreaker. We lost 5-4 and every match was fought with grit. Caitlin Demkin’s five-game victory was the most focused match I have seen her play this year. She played controlled squash and capitalized on the shots that she has been working all season to improve.  Hayley Milbourn ran her player down during the close second game, and her opponent completely crumbled during the third game, allowing Hayley to grab a 3-0 victory. I think I personally came out on top in my five-game match solely because of my determination to win. I think I focused really well in the fifth game because I knew it was all or nothing.

GW might have had a win leaving that night, but they also had an 8-hour drive in snow and inauguration traffic back to D.C. You win some, you lose some.

We were back at the courts by 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning for our hardest match-up of the weekend, Bowdoin. Ranked considerably higher than we, Bowdoin was a match in which we had nothing to lose. As the matches progressed however, it was clear that the GW match the night before had taken a toll on all of us physically. Everyone was moving a little slower than usual, and everyone’s reaction time seemed off. The most impressive match I got to watch was Hayley Milbourn. She fought out an incredible five-game match against a girl who had legs twice as long and a reach twice as far. Hayley fought her hardest and ran down every single ball, forcing her Bowdoin opponent to those five games. I was most proud of Caroline Dreyspool, who won her five-game match at the number nine spot. Caroline started the season out of the starting lineup and she has worked so hard to improve. Although I didn’t get to watch her match, hearing about her victory made me so proud of her and her progress.

Yale University is the home of the US Squash Hall of Fame and behind their exhibition court on which we played; there was a collection of quotes from Squash notables. There was a quote from the current Yale coach Dave Talbott that said, “Play hard, good things will happen.” Our team played hard this weekend and I am sure if we keep playing with this intensity, good things are going to happen in the future.

Individual Match Results – Yale University – Sat.-Sun. Jan 17-18, 2009

Amherst vs. Conn College – Amherst 9 : Conn 0

1) Dalgligh (A) def. Parsons (C) 9-7, 10-8, 9-2
2) Milbourn (A) def. Flynn (C) 9-2, 10-8, 9-3
3) Savage (A) def. Abrims (C) 9-0, 9-0, 9-3
4) Scheidt (A) def. Leeds (C) 9-1, 9-5, 9-1
5) Demkin (A) def. Robertson (C) 9-4, 9-1, 9-1
6) Moulton (A) def. Beinfield (C) 9-0, 9-2, 9-0
7) Bell (A) def. Timpone (C) 9-3, 9-3, 9-2
8) Clower (A) def. Corn (C) 9-0, 9-2, 9-2
9) Dreyspool (A) def. Hollander (C) 9-5, 9-5, 10-8

Amherst vs. George Washington – Amherst 4 : GWU 5
1) Dalglish (A) def. Rayfield (G) (0-9) 10-9, 9-3, (3-9), 9-7
2) Milbourn (A) def. Bullard (G) 9-6, 9-6, 9-0
3) Mathiew (G) def. Savage (A) 9-0, 9-5, (4-9), 9-5
4) Scheidt (A) def. Shumway (G) 9-7, (8-10), 10-8, 9-6
5) Demkin (A) def. Mouty (G) (7-9), 9-2, (4-9), 9-2, 9-3
6) Hingley (G) def. Moulton (A) 9-5, 9-5, (4-9), 9-5
7) Ehrlich (G) def. Bell (A) 10-8, (3-9), 9-2, 9-2
8) Gorgi (G) def. Clower (A) 9-3, 9-4, 9-4
9) Beaton (G) def. Dreyspool (A) 9-1, 9-1, 9-3

Amherst vs. Bowdoin College – Amherst 3 : Bowdoin 6
1) Laird (B) def. Dalglish (A) 9-3, 9-1, 9-0
2) Gesswein (B) def. Milbourn (A) 9-3, (9-3), (6-9), 9-5, 9-5
3) Gormley (B) def. Savage (A) 9-1, 9-1, 9-0
4) Franceschi (B) def. Schiedt (A) 9-2, 9-3, 9-2
5) Gillespie (B) def. Demkin (A) 9-6, 9-3, 9-2
6) Warner (B) def. Moulton (A) 9-5, 9-5, 9-5
7) Bell (A) def. Cushing (B) 9-2, 9-0, 9-1
8) Clower (A) def. McFarland (B) 9-3, 9-6, 9-1
9) Dreyspool (A) def. Tshiderer (B) (6-9), 9-4, 9-1, (5-9), 9-1