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No. 2 Yale Ends Regular Season With 5-4 Loss to No. 1 Harvard

Kimberley Hay. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Kimberley Hay. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Sunday, the No. 2 Yale women's squash team got ahead of No. 1 Harvard 4-2, but couldn't finish off the victory, losing 5-4 in the regular season finale.   

The first match completed came at No. 9, where freshman Issey Norman-Ross topped Megan Murray 11-3, 12-10, 11-8 to put the Bulldogs up  1-0 early. 

Next, at No. 3, No. 33 ranked senior captain Rhetta Nadas fell 3-1 to No. 5 Nirasha Guruge.  Nadas won the first game, but Guruge took control in the second and third to go up 2-1.  In the fourth game Nadas jumped out to an early 6-3 lead, but then fell behind 10-7.  She came back to win the next four points and go up 11-10, but Guruge battled back to win 13-11 and even the match score. 

In the ­­sixth spot, No. 46 sophomore Gwen Tilghman lost her match 3-2 to Harvard's No. 18 Cece Cortes.  Tilghman won the first and fourth games to set up a fifth game for the match, but in the fifth Cortes proved too much, going up 8-2 before winning 11-5 to put Harvard up 2-1. 

At No. 8, No. 68 ranked sophomore Lilly Fast won a thrilling 3-2 match over Julianne Chu.  In the fifth set, Fast went up 5-1, but ­­­Chu came back to even the score at 7-7.  From there the players stayed in lockstep until it was 9-9, but Fast pulled away to take the next two points and win the match.

At No. 2, sophomore Kim Hay, ranked No. 15, pulled off a huge upset of Laura Gemmell.  Gemmell is ranked No. 2 nationally, behind only Yale sophomore Millie Tomlinson, whereas Hay is No. 15.  Hay won the first game, but lost the second 11-9 and the third 11-8.  In the fourth game Hay came out fast, going up 6-1 early then maintaining her advantage on the way to an 11-8 victory to even the match at 2-2.  The fifth game was close early, with the players knotted at 4-4, but Hay was able to pull away and take an 8-6 lead, after which she won out to take the match 11-6 and put Yale ahead 3-2.  On the final point, Hay followed up a short shot with a hit along the right wall that Gemmell couldn't get in position to return.  Gemmell had only lost one collegiate match before Sunday, with that loss at the hands of Yale's No. 1 player, Tomlinson, in the finals of the 2011 CSA Individual Championships. 

At No. ­5, No. 47 junior Katie Ballaine upset No. 20 Natasha Kingshott 3-1 to put Yale up 4-2.  Ballaine went up 10-6 in the first game, but Kingshott caught fire to win the next six points and take a 1-0 lead.  Ballaine, however, was unruffled by the comeback, winning the second game 11-6 and the third 11-7.  In the fourth game Ballaine went up 5-1, then held that advantage to go up 10-5.  The final point was a lengthy battle, but Ballaine took it to put Yale on the brink of victory.

However, Yale was unable to win a fifth match.  Tomlinson played at No. 1, and fell in straight sets to Harvard freshman Amanda Sobhy.  Sobhy is undefeated in college and was ranked seventh in the world in the latest U23 Women's International Squash Player Association Rankings, while Tomlinson isn't in the top 200.  The loss was Tomlinson's second in her time at Yale, with the other one coming in her very first match. 

With the score at 4-3 Yale, only freshman Shihui Mao and senior Alexandra van Arkel were left playing.  Mao was up against No. 30 ranked Sarah Mumanachit, and very nearly beat her highly ranked opponent.  Mao won the first game 11-5, but Mumanachit flipped a switch and won the second game 11-8 and the third 11-2.  Mao came back to win the fourth 11-6, and a victory in the fifth game would have meant a victory for the Bulldogs.  However, Mumanachit went ahead 7-1 early, and despite diving to the ground to save shots on consecutive points, Mao was unable to gain any traction, losing the deciding game 11-3.

Yale's last remaining hope was the No. 56 ranked senior van Arkel, playing at No. 4 against freshman Haley Mendez. Mendez took the first game 11-5, and went ahead 10-5 in the second.  Van Arkel was able to bounce back, though, winning the next five points before ultimately losing 12-10.  In the third game, van Arkel had a chance at victory when she was ahead 10-8, but Mendez came back to win the game and the match 12-10. 

Despite the loss to Harvard, Yale had an incredible season.  The Bulldogs finished with a 15-1 record and a 6-1 mark against the Ivy League.  The team may have a chance at revenge against the Crimson in the Howe Cup, which will be played at Harvard from Feb. 24-26. 

Yale University Rating Harvard University Rating Winner's Score Winner Code
1WS Tomlinson,Millie 0.000 Sobhy,Amanda 0.000 11-6,11-3,11-5 Harvard University C
2WS Hay,Kimberley 0.000 Gemmell,Laura C 0.000 9-11,11-9,11-8,8-11,11-6 Yale University C
3WS Nadas,Rhetta N 0.000 Guruge,Nirasha 0.000 7-11,11-2,11-3,13-11 Harvard University C
4WS Van Arkel,Alexandra 0.000 Mendez,Haley 0.000 11-5,12-10,12-10 Harvard University C
5WS Ballaine,Katie W 0.000 Kingshott,Natasha 0.000 10-12,11-6,11-7,11-5 Yale University C
6WS Tilghman,Gwendoline C 0.000 Cortes,Cecelia 0.000 11-8,9-11,11-3,10-12,11-5 Harvard University C
7WS Mao,Shihui 0.000 Mumanachit,Sarah 0.000 5-11,11-8,11-2,6-11,11-3 Harvard University C
8WS Fast,Lillian A. 0.000 Chu,Julianne L. 0.000 12-10,6-11,6-11,11-6,11-9 Yale University C
9WS Norman-Ross,Issey 0.000 Murray,Megan A. 0.000 11-3,12-10,11-8 Yale University C
10WS Harrison,Anne 0.000 Calihan,Eliza M 0.000 11-5,11-1,11-7 Yale University C

Report by Calvin Bohn '14, Yale Sports Publicity