Women’s Squash Set to Defend Walker Cup Title in 2015-16

Women’s Squash Set to Defend Walker Cup Title in 2015-16

SEASON OUTLOOK
The 2015-16 Amherst College women's squash team is a three-time Walker Cup Champion, and is looking for its third straight cup championship this season after winning it back-to-back in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Led by sixth-year head coach Peter Robson, the Purple & White, ranked 17th in the latest Women's College Squash Association (CSA) Coaches Poll, features a squad that returns five seniors, four juniors, three sophomores, and welcomes in three first-years.

After starting its 2014-15 season 6-4, Amherst won seven of its final nine matches, including its final five contests of the season, en route to winning its second consecutive Walker Cup, and the program's third overall since 2009. The Purple & White defeated Wellesley, 9-0 in the first round of the CSA Team Championships, before knocking off Colby, 7-2 in the semifinals. Amherst clinched the title when it topped Bowdoin, 6-3 in the championship contest.

Looking to build on its 13-6 record from a year ago, Amherst begins its quest for a third consecutive Walker Cup crown December 8 when it hosts Smith at the Davenport Squash Courts at 6 p.m. The squad resumes action when it hosts the three-day Pioneer Valley Invitational Jan. 15-17, as it welcomes Hamilton, Yale, Conn. College, Colby, Dickinson and Bates to Amherst, Mass. An away contest at Middlebury (Jan. 20), followed by the Little III Championships with Wesleyan and Williams (Jan. 31 at Williams) round out the month of January.

In February, Amherst takes the court for a match against Mount Holyoke (Feb. 3), followed by the NESCAC Championships hosted by Trinity, Feb. 5-7. The Purple & White then begin the CSA Team Championships Feb. 19-21, and Feb. 26-28, both at Yale. The season concludes at the CSA Individual Championships hosted by Dartmouth March 4-6.

MEET THE TEAM
In 2015-16, Amherst will rely on its experienced squad to make a run at another Walker Cup title as the Purple & White only lost two players to graduation from last season's squad.

This year, Amherst will be led by senior tri-captains Khushy Aggarwal, Taryn Clary, and Ericka Robertson. All three were instrumental in their team's championship run as Aggarwal and Clary each won three matches, while Robertson was victorious in two of three. Robson will look to their leadership, along with the depth and experience of classmates Corri Johnson and Rebecca Pol.

Adding to that depth will be the junior class which runs four deep. Izzy Derber, Caitlin Merrell, Tiana Palmer-Poroner, and Olivia Pinney will vie for playing time this season. Palmer-Poroner highlighted the group a season ago, and will look to build on her impressive conclusion to the campaign which saw the Scarsdale, N.Y. native win her final three matches during Walker Cup action.

Mae Cromwell, Kimberly Krayacich and Haley McAtee complete a highly talented group of sophomores that each made significant impacts in their debut seasons.

Krayacich competed in 18 of 19 matches from the No. 1 position during her debut campaign, while McAtee saw action at the No. 3 position and earned the Harrow Sports College Squash Player of the 2015 Women's National Team Championship award. McAtee defeated Wellesley's Meera Nayar in her quarterfinal match, and then bested Mikaela Johnson in the semifinals. Against Bowdoin's Virginia Ross, McAtee won a five-set thriller (11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8) to help the Purple & White secure their second straight Walker Cup title.

First-years Rachael Ang, Emma Crowe, and Priya Sinha round out the 2015-16 Amherst squad, and each will look to provide key contributions in their rookie seasons.