MEDFORD - Both the men’s and women’s squash teams have been waiting all season for this weekend. The Jumbos will travel to compete in the College Squash Association Team Nationals hosted by Yale and Wesleyan this Friday through Sunday. The No. 24 Jumbo women will be playing for the Howe Cup in the C division while the No. 33 Jumbo men will look to win the Chaffee Cup in the E division. Here is everything you need to know:
WHO TO WATCH
On the women’s side its senior Paget Stanco with the most experience at the national tournament. Stanco has spent a majority of the season at the number one position for the Jumbos and will look to be the veteran leader on and off the court for the Jumbos this weekend.
Joining Stanco as returners to the national tournament are sophomores Lauren Banner, Claudia Udolf, Gabi Salomon and Nellie Harvey. Banner and Udolf have found themselves in the middle of the Jumbos line up this season while Salomon and Harvey have rounded out the Jumbos line up in matches this season.
There are seven freshman making their first collegiate appearance at the national tournament. Rookies Zarena Jafry and Hannah Burns have spent the entire season in the top three for the Jumbos and will combine with Stanco for a strong 1-2-3 punch. Joining that rookie class are Lily Hayes, Chista Irani, Sahana Karthik, Isabella Libassi and Sinclair Meggitt.
The men’s roster is also young—as there is not a single senior on the roster. Junior captain Danny Fischer and classmate Austin Brush are the lone upperclassmen on the roster. Brush was abroad this fall, so Fischer is the one that has been around for the entire season to mentor a young team.
Joining Fischer and Brush with nationals experience are sophomores Braden Chiulli and Alec Goodrich. Chiulli has played the first semester in the second position, but has since moved into the first position this semester, while Goodrich has made himself a staple in the seventh through ninth positions this season. Classmates John Patrick and Sandeep Rishi have also played for the Jumbos this year, and have nationals experience under their belts.
A strong freshman class of six has been a big part of the Jumbo line up this season. Rookies Cameron Ewan and Alan Litman have both played a bunch at the top of the line up for the Jumbos in their first collegiate season. But, adding to the Jumbos line up all season long have also been classmates Matt Memmo, Aidan Porges, Brett Raskopf and Imran Trehan.
BY THE NUMBERS
5: The number of matches Jumbo men’s team member Imran Trehan has won since the NESCAC Tournament began a couple weeks ago. Trehan has gone 5-2 during that span with the two lone losses coming to Amherst and Wesleyan.
1: Number of matches the Jumbo women have lost in the month of February. The Jumbos have won six matches, including their last five, with that lone loss coming to Bates to open up the NESCAC Championships.
23: Matches the Jumbo men have won in just three games since the NESCAC Tournament began two weeks ago. During that span the Jumbos have gone 4-4 with three of those four losses coming to higher ranked NESCAC opponents.
12: Wins for rookie Hannah Burns, the most of any women’s player. Burns has won a majority of her matches in the third position, but has also picked up wins in the second and first positions this season.
11: Wins for the Jumbo’s men team this year. That is the most since 2009-2010 when the Jumbos finished the season with 12 wins.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
The women will be playing for the Howe Cup in the C division this weekend. That division includes teams that are ranked 17th through 24th in the nation, including No. 17 Amherst, No. 18 Bowdoin, No. 19 Bates, No. 20 Hamilton, No. 21 Colby, No. 22 St. Lawrence, No. 23 Wellesley and the No. 24 ranked Jumbos.
The women will face off with Amherst in the opening round of play, as the Purple and White are the highest seed in the division. The Jumbos and the Purple and White have not faced off since the 2011-12 season when Amherst earned a 9-0 victory. The Purple and White are 9-5 overall this season, most recently haven’t beaten Bowdoin in the opening round of the NESCAC Tournament, but then falling to Trinity and Middlebury.
The Jumbo men will be playing for the Chaffee Cup which is the E division and features teams ranked No. 33rd through 40th in the country. That includes the No. 33 ranked Jumbos in addition to No. 34 Connecticut College, No. 35 Haverford, No. 36 New York University, No. 37 Georgetown, No. 38 Fordham, No. 39 University of Chicago and No. 40 Lehigh.
Tufts and Lehigh have not faced off in program history, dating back to 1999. The Mountain Hawks are 3-6 this season, and have faced some common opponents with the Jumbos. The Jumbos and the Mountain Hawks both fell to MIT this year, but the Jumbos topped Haverford while the Mountain Hawks weren’t able to win that match. Both teams have also lost to Dickinson this season.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Senior women’s co-captain Paget Stanco: “This is the weekend we work the entire season for. Its not only my last opportunity to upset some other teams as it is my last season at Tufts, but it is the first time for the women’s team to make the Walker Cup of Nationals in many many years and we want to prove we can compete at this level. The team has put in so much time and hard work to get to this point and have a mission to finish what we started. I am looking forward to some great squash this weekend and ending the season as one of the top women’s teams in the program’s history.”
Head coach Joe McManus on the women’s team: “I am so proud of our women’s team and how they competed this season. Based on the seedings for this year’s national tournament, the Tufts women are guaranteed a national ranking of #24 or higher, which will be an improvement of last year’s final ranking of #25 nationally. And this year’s team is a very young group. Captain Paget Stanco is the only senior on a team without juniors. But, we aren’t done yet. We believe we can compete well this weekend and want to upset the seedings and come home with some victories.”
Freshman Hannah Burns: “I’m excited to close the season out higher than we started. I think it really attests to our improved focus and work ethic throughout the season, I can’t wait to put it to good use and show everyone what we’ve got.”
Sophomore Gabi Salomon: “I’m looking forward to spending time with the team and giving it my all…leaving it all on the court. I want to drive back from Yale this weekend feeling like I improved as a player.”
Junior captain Danny Fischer: “As a team, we’re really excited to play at nationals. We are the #1 seed in our division and we are looking to take home the trophy. We have a huge match coming up this Friday against Lehigh, and if we win that match and the subsequent one, we have a change to play Conn. College at Yale on Sunday. This would be a huge match for us, and I know that we can avenge our close 5-4 loss at NESCACs. We’ve worked hard this week, and I look forward to returning with some hardware.”
Coach McManus on the men’s team: “The men are seeded #1 in the Chaffee Division of this year’s tournament. The final computer rankings were a difficult pill for the team to swallow as we fell five spots in the final week. The best thing we can do as a team is focus on the matches ahead of us, win our bracket and let our record speak for itself.”
HOW THE TOURNAMENT WORKS
The Jumbo women will face off with No. 17 Amherst on Friday. If they win that match they will play the winner of the Colby and Hamilton match. If they lose, they will play the loser of that same match. Bates and St. Lawrence and Wellesley and Bowdoin are facing off on the other side of the bracket.
The Jumbo women would need to win three matches to win the bracket. But, if they lose, they go into consolation matches that determine final rankings for the season. At the end of last season, the Jumbos finished ranked No. 25. Going into the weekend as the No. 24 ranked team, the Jumbos are guaranteed to finish no lower than No. 24.
On the men’s side, the Jumbos will face off with Lehigh in the opening match. The winner of that match will play the winner of the Georgetown and NYU match, as the losers play as well. On the other side of the bracket, Haverford is playing Fordham and Chicago is playing Connecticut College.
Similarly to the women, the Jumbos would need to win three matches to win the bracket and finish the season ranked No. 33. The Camels of Connecticut College are ranked just behind the Jumbos, and should provide a close match should the Jumbos and Camels make it to the championship match.