Fresh off of a team training trip to Greece and riding the momentum from a 12-4 season, Princeton Women’s Squash look to replicate their success from last year, boasting seven clean 9-0 sweeps and reaching a national ranking of 3.
The Tigers capped off their regular season matches with a thrilling 5-4 victory against Trinity, a historically strong team that looks to challenge Princeton again this season.
“We hadn’t beaten them in a while, and they are always a really deep and experienced team of international players, so beating them 5-4 was an incredible way to end the regular season,” said junior Olivia Fiechter, who has played No. 1 on the ladder since her freshman year.
The team graduated four seniors from last year, including Rachel Leizman and Tara Harrington who played in the starting lineup for all four years, Captain Libbie Maine, and Isabella Bersani who rounded out the bottom of the ladder.
After losing such an integral class, the team looks to their freshman recruits Madison Soukup and Morgan Steelman to step in and fill their shoes.
Soukup has been ranked as high as No. 4 at both the U15 and U17 levels nationally, and Steelman was ranked No. 1 at the U13, U15 and U17 age levels and reached No. 5 at U19. The two will bring a high level of play to Princeton’s already deep lineup.
Senior Captains Maria Elena Ubina, who played at No. 2 last season, and Alexandra Toth, who played in the middle of the lineup, will lead the team with a combined eight years of experience on the starting lineup and a host of wins under their belts. Seniors Ashley Richards and Gabriella Gar will also be integral in their last season as Tigers.
Looking forward to the season, the Tigers have a number of strengths to rely on.
“I would say that one of our team’s strengths is that in from 3-10 on our lineup, anyone could win on any day, so we are super deep. We have an amazing chemistry on the team and get along really well. Being so close off court makes it that much easier to push ourselves and work hard on court,” said Fiechter.
Agreed Soukup, “We all really support each other on and off the court. Everyone always shows up in practice ready to work really hard, which is especially important because an individual’s performance has a direct impact on the other person she is hitting with for the day. We are all really spirited and will run down every single ball during a rally, which is highly important in a tight match.”
Despite their talent, the Tigers have their work cut out for them as they go into the season with a number of injured players from their lineup.
“We want to keep people healthy because we’re currently dealing with a bunch of injuries. While it’s tough to set goals for the season with so many injuries, staying in the top 4 will be a tough but attainable goal for us if we all continue to work hard and play well,” said Fiechter.
Teams that haven’t been considered threats to the Tigers in the past have recently had strong recruiting classes, placing more pressure on the team to perform at their best to maintain their ranking.
Improving their mental game will be crucial in rising to meet this challenge.
“Squash is such a tough game and things can happen so quickly, so if you aren’t mentally sharp and able to make adjustments quickly, the match can be over like that. Mental strength in tough moments is something we always work on,” added Fiechter.
The Tigers hope to grow their individual level of play and peak at the end of the season so they can bring their best game to Nationals.
Concluded Soukup, “I’m really looking forward to see how much we improve as the season progresses. Already, we have all improved a lot since we first started Captains practices in September. After kicking off the season last weekend at Ivy scrimmages, I think we all are recharged to go full force into the season’s matches. I am excited to see the improvement in people’s games and how we can all come together and pull out tough matches when it is needed most.”