Women’s Squash Season Preview
Colonials look to reclaim B Division title
With a roster that features five new faces, the George Washington women’s squash team aims to continue its upward trajectory and capture the College Squash Association (CSA) B-Division title in the 2017-18 season.
After ending the 2016-17 season with a final ranking of 12th in the nation, the Colonials will look to use a combination of fresh talent and upperclassmen leadership to reclaim their B-Division title from 2013-14.
“When we lost Breanne, we made up in skill with Zoe,” said head coach Wendy Lawrence. “Zoe is one of the strongest players that we have ever brought into the program. She’s an unbelievably great kid as well. She finished in the Top 16 of the world championships over the summer so, in my view, I predict she’s going to be our strongest No. 1 ever.”
In addition to Zoe, the Colonials welcome Vedika Arunachalam (Tamil Nadu, India), Haley Hunt (Brookline, Mass.), Aarushi Lakhotia (Saratoga, Calif.), and Zuha Nazir (Centerville, Ohio). With preseason training coming to a close, each freshman will try to put their best foot forward in hopes of claiming a top spot on the ladder.
“There’s always a big transition from junior squash to college squash,” said third-year assistant coach Anderson Good. “There’s a noticeable difference to managing school to managing squash every day. A lot of these kids did not play team squash in high school so this is all new to them. There have been some adjustments, but I think we’ve now been able to hit our stride and people are starting to get in the rhythm of things. In terms of impact, Zuha and Vedika will probably play in the middle of our lineup while Arushi and Hayley will challenge for a bottom third spot. We added some folks who will be stepping into our lineup and I think we will be a hair stronger than last year. This incoming group has definitely added to that.”
Senior co-captains Mary Jo Mahfood and Abby Shonrock will lead the pack while aiming to cap their careers on a high note. Mahfood posted a 7-10 record at No. 3, notching prominent wins over then-No.16 Franklin & Marshall and then-No.9 Dartmouth. Shonrock finished the season with an even 9-9 record, which included a victory in the No. 2 spot over John’s Hopkins.
“Mary started out as an exceptional talent when she got here but had a lot of room to grow,” said Lawrence. “In the last year, she has really started to take it seriously in terms of her training and her game day attitude. I think that was seen by the team who elected her captain. Same with Abby, who has always been a very aggressive, very committed, and very supportive player of her own game. In the last couple years she has branched out and started to look beyond her own game. They both have come a long way.”
Also returning for the Colonials is Cairo, Egypt, native Engy El Mandouh, who posted eight victories at the No. 2 position on the ladder in her debut season. Joining her is fellow sophomore Emma Tryon, slated to play at the No. 3 position after posting an 8-9 record at No. 4 in 2016-17.
The 2017-18 season will feature some of the Colonials’ toughest matches yet, as they will face seven teams that finished last season in the top 10 of the CSA National Poll.
The Colonials open the season on Saturday with a scrimmage against Navy’s male junior varsity squad. The women’s squash team will then open their home slate at the Matthew J. Grossman squash courts at Learner Health and Wellness Center on November 18 at 12:00 p.m. when they play host to No. 1 Trinity.
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