Battle of the Sexes for GW Women's Squash
Colonials Top Navy's Male JV Team in Sunday Exhibition
Nov. 19, 2013
On Sunday afternoon at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the George Washington women's squash team took to the courts at Halsey Field House for an exhibition match.
The team had made the short trip to the academy in part to cheer on the GW men's team as they participated in the Navy Round Robin. Also on the schedule for Sunday was an exhibition match pitting the Colonials' women's team against Navy. The match was to serve as a tune up ahead of the first road trip of the season next weekend.
However, the match was anything but ordinary. The GW women were about to go head-to-head with Navy's male junior varsity squad.
"Last year, the men had a couple of matches at the Navy Round Robin," said head coach Wendy Lawrence. "I needed a match for the women so I figured I would reach out to the Navy JV coach and asked if he would be interested in playing our women's team. He said he was interested so we made the trip and ended up playing them. "
The Colonials lost 5-4 in that match to a very talented Navy squad.
"These guys are fit and they run around and hit the ball very hard," explained Coach Lawrence. "It was such a success though. The girls loved it and the guys really enjoyed playing it as well so we set it up again for this season. But, I also knew we had a much stronger team this season."
This year's version of the GW women's squash team is much stronger than in previous seasons. With a full roster of 15 student-athletes and a preseason ranking of No. 14 in the College Squash Association Preseason Poll, the Colonials felt much more confident heading into Sunday's match.
The confidence proved to be legitimate. The Colonials won each of the 12 matches they played against the Midshipmen, taking 10 of those matches in straight sets.
"The girls were thrilled because they really had to work hard to earn this win," said Coach Lawrence. "The thing about the Navy players is they are very strong and fit, they run down every ball and they don't get tired. They are very skilled. But, with the work that we have been doing with our Strength & Conditioning Department and what we have been doing in team practices, building on conditioning more than ever before, has really paid off. The level of fitness put us over the top this year and they just couldn't keep up. We won all 12 matches we played!"
For the student-athletes on the floor, it was a great chance to play a high quality, yet pressure free match, against a very strong opponent.
"I almost prefer to play a men's team to be honest," said senior Catherine Ehrlich. "There wasn't as much pressure knowing that it was an exhibition match. Also the guys were very polite and fair; there were no arguments on calls."
"Compared to when we played them last year, we know it was going to be a challenge but we had a better idea of what to expect this time," said senior Elizabeth Tapley.
Like Coach Lawrence, the senior duo credit the work the team has put in with the Strength & Conditioning Department for their renewed sense of fitness when battling the Midshipmen.
"We have been focusing on dynamics and conditioning more than we have in the past," explained Tapley. "It has helped us get faster gain more endurance. One of their strengths last season when we played was definitely their fitness so we knew we had a good shot to win some matches based on the work we have been doing."
"I felt more fit in this match than I did during last year's match," added Ehrlich.
Notching wins on Sunday afternoon were Tapley and Ehlich along with Anna Gabriela Porras, Breanne Flynn, Alejandra Porras, Emely Levyn, Jackie Shea, Alexa Tzarnas, Eunice Tan, Mehak Chawla, Adriana Calderon and Jessica Perkins.
"It definitely gave us a bit of a confidence boost," said Tapley. "Just in a sense of how we feel on the court and it allowed us to compete in a sped-up setting so it is certainly going to help us in the long run."
Coach Lawrence agreed it helped boost the confidence of the squad as they resume their regular-season schedule with visits to No. 11 Columbia and No. 3 Penn this weekend.
"To be able to say that they beat a men's team has them really psyched," explained Coach Lawrence. "The fact that they only lost by one match last year invoked a sense of revenge so they were really looking forward to having another crack at it this season. I also have to give the Navy credit; they were very polite, generous and supportive during each match."
When asked if the series would continue in the future, Lawrence cracked a smile as her eyes lit up.
"We are going to keep it going, they don't want to end on a losing note to a bunch of girls!"