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Feb. 10, 2005

A pair of Ivy League titles and a No. 1 national ranking are on the line as the Yale men's and women's squash teams head to Cambridge for Saturday's showdown matches at Harvard's Murr Center.

The Yale women, trying to defend both their 2004 Ivy and national crowns, play the Crimson at 1 p.m. in a match featuring the No. 1 and 2 teams in the latest College Squash Association (CSA) rankings. The Bulldogs, captained by senior Frances Ho (Hong Kong), have held that spot all year, but Harvard only moved into the second spot after beating Trinity, 5-4, on Feb. 3.

Defending individual national champion Michelle Quibell (Atlanta, Ga.), who is 7-1 overall and currently ranked second in the CSA, leads the Elis into the contest. The junior faces Harvard's Kyla Grigg, the No. 3 ranked player who is coming off a 3-1 win over Princeton's Claire Rein-Weston on Feb. 7.

Five of the top 12 ranked women in the new CSA individual rankings are Bulldogs.

"We are excited and we know it will be the most difficult match of the season," said Yale sophomore Catherine McLeod (Auckland, New Zealand), who is playing at No. 3. "We have dominated all of the other matches, so it will be nice to put our hard work to use. This is the test to see if we really are champions."

Captain Gavin Cumberbatch (Barbados, West Indies) and the No. 3 ranked Yale men's team take on the second-ranked Cantabs at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Bulldogs are looking for their first Ancient Eight crown since 1990.

Junior Julian Illingworth (Portland, Ore.), fresh off a doubles championship at the Briggs Cup Pro-Am at Rye, N.Y., last week, brings his No. 1 CSA ranking into the league's decisive contest at the Barnaby Squash Courts. He will either face his old rival junior Will Broadbent, who has won the last two meetings with Illingworth but has not been playing No. 1 for the Crimson this year, or sophomore Siddhath Suchde, who has never faced Yale's best player.

"This match will determine if this is a good or bad season for us," said Illingworth. "If we don't win, we haven't accomplished anything. I think we got too worked up about last year's match and were nervous. This time we are relaxed and ready to play."

While Illingworth may not have a chance to avenge the two losses to Broadbent, he was able to get some satisfaction from an intercollegiate doubles championship victory over the Harvard star at New York City last month. Illingworth and Yale junior William Rees (Rye, N.Y.) defeated Broadbent and the current Harvard captain.

"This is the first time in my 22 years at Yale that both teams have a chance to win Ivy titles against Harvard in the last match of the season," said Dave Talbott, who is in his 22nd year as the men's coach and first as the women's. "There is a lot of pressure on our women as the defending champions, while the men are peaking at the right time and are a dead-even match with Harvard."

Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Assistant AD and Sports Publicity Director