AMHERST, Mass. – Defending champions of the Walker Cup, the Amherst College women's squash team has stockpiled their roster with another big class of talented freshmen for the 2017-18 season.
Last year's victory was the third time in the last four years that Amherst has claimed the Walker Cup, which awards the national championship for teams in the third division (ranked 17-24 at the end of the year). While the achievement is one that he is very proud of, eighth year head coach Peter Robson says that the team is ready to move up in the rankings.
Similar to the men's team, it will take victories over foes like Bates, Williams, Middlebury and Brown to propel the Mammoths to a spot in the top sixteen.
The team is built for just such a purpose, as they return the entire top ten players from the championship team, as well as a class of freshman that all figure to slot into the top ten and take some pressure off of those who were playing up a year ago.
Riddhi Sampat '21, the number three ranked player in India, should take over the top spot in the Mammoth lineup, while Madison Chen '21 is slated into the fourth position right now. Margaret Werner and Ashira Mawji are two other first years who coach Robson expects to contribute right out of the gate, as will Pierson Klein '20, who comes to Amherst after a year at Columbia University out of Atlanta, Ga.
"All of our first years are in the top ten right now, so we think we are going to be much stronger with them," said Robson. "The upperclassmen are also excited that they have a chance to be really successful, but they know they need to fight to be in the lineup with the big roster we have."
Of the returners, Jenna Finkelstein '20 was quite possibly the best #7 player in the entire country last year. She posted a 16-2 record, and also won her only matches at #5 and #6 for an 18-2 mark on the season. Finkelstein finished the year winning eight straight matches, while Mae Cromwell '18 and Katy Sabina Correia '20 finished out the year on seven game winning streaks.
Correia went 14-6 overall, mostly at #6, and will probably have more opportunity for success at the bottom of the lineup this year. Cromwell paired with Emma Crowe '19 and Jenni Bown '20 to post a 15-5 record at #9. Cromwell and Bown also combined for twelve wins in the eighth spot.
Rachael Ang '19, Caroline Conway '20, and Haley McAtee '18 should also be in the mix this season. Ang won ten games at #2 last year, Conway went 13-7 playing in the middle of the lineup, and McAtee held down the four and five spots last year with a 10-8 record.
"I tell the team every year that this is a new team and you have to earn your spot," said Robson. "Some of them will and some of them won't but they are all working a lot harder this year and I think that the competition among the team is going to be great for us."
The Mammoths kick off their season on Friday evening with a 6:00 pm match against Tufts, followed by a 1:00 pm showdown with BU on Saturday afternoon. Other notable dates include the Little III Championships on January 27th at Wesleyan, the NESCAC Championships February 2nd-4th at Hamilton, and the women's team championships February 16-18 at Harvard.