Excerpts from A History of Princeton Squash


   Although Princeton men’s squash had enjoyed its longest skein of extended success during the span from 1974-81 --- winning the Ivy League six times, posting five undefeated dual-meet seasons and at one stage winning 43 consecutive dual meets, all Princeton records by wide margins --- the program, once a pillar of coaching stability (John Conroy coached the Tigers for 29 years from 1940-69), had gone through a period of transition during the late-1970’s and early 1980’s. When Summers left at the conclusion of Callahan’s freshman year, David Benjamin became the coach of Princeton’s squash and tennis teams, in keeping with a longstanding racquet-sports tradition at Princeton (and almost every other college as well) in which the same person coached both teams. But by the end of the 1977-78 season (in which the squash team won both the regular-season nine-man championship and the postseason six-man tournament, the first time that a Princeton men’s squash team had achieved this “double”), Coach Benjamin, exhausted by his four years of double-duty, realized that the college racquet-sports paradigm had evolved to the point where the squash and tennis seasons had become too overlapping, time-consuming and travel-demanding for one person to coach both sports, and he announced that, beginning with the 1978-79 season, he would be concentrating his full energy on the tennis team.

   In the wake of this decision, Norm Peck, who had served for six years as assistant coach first to Summers and then to Benjamin, was promoted to the head position, which he held for the next two years before his damaged shoulder forced him to the sidelines. Peter Thompson, one of four members of the Class of 1979 (Frank Brosens, Bill Fisher and Bob Bolling were the others) whose collegiate careers had culminated with a “Triple Crown” conquest of the nine-man title the six-man title and the Five-Man USSRA Team Championship, stepped in and coached the team to an undefeated 1980-81 season and a second-place finish in the postseason Six-Man team tournament before departing, as planned, to the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. The result of all this movement was that Callahan was Princeton’s third head squash coach in as many years and the fourth in a five-year period. The two best players from the 1980-81 team, co-captains John Nimick (winner of the 1981 Intercollegiate Individual tournament) and George McFarland, had both graduated, leaving a big void at the top of the lineup, but there were 10 returning lettermen, including co-captains Steve Loughran and Jon Moore, their senior classmate Hunt Richardson, juniors Chris Sherry, John Fisher, Rich Zabel, Wistar Wood, Bob Clothier and Jamie Barrett and sophomore Rob Hill, who ascended from the No. 7 slot as a freshman all  the way to No. 1, where he played for the remainder of his college career. Wood, Clothier and Loughran had previously been teammates on the powerful squash team at Haverford School in suburban Philadelphia during the late-1970’s. Four freshmen, namely Tom Shepherd and Luke Evnin, the Nos. 2 and 3 nationally ranked juniors, along with Andover No. 1 Bill Ullman and John Buckner filled out the roster.

   Callahan understandably brought an IBM-style business-like approach to his new craft, including taping a sign that said “THINK” onto his telephone in imitation of one of the computer giant’s mantras. He kept detailed spread-sheets on which he tabulated many aspects of the players’ progress and was constantly analyzing his team’s performance. Since Callahan had played tennis as well as squash throughout his four years at Princeton (lettering on the tennis team his sophomore year), he had six seasons’ worth of exposure to David Benjamin’s coaching methods and philosophy; indeed Callahan coached Princeton’s JV tennis team in the spring, so the two remained in close touch. One of Benjamin’s foremost tenets was the primacy of the team as the central unit of organization, even though both squash and tennis are widely viewed as “individual” rather than “team” sports. Callahan therefore had the team members not only play squash together but lift weights together and go on group runs. He also arranged for the team to have matching spiffy warm-up suits with orange and black stripes (even team manager Martha Taylor got one) to enhance the team concept. During the intercession in late January, the players stayed on campus for two-a-day practice sessions ahead of a crucial early-February match at Harvard. This dual meet for more than a decade had been the key moment of the season; whichever team won the Harvard-Princeton dual meet had gone on to win the Ivy League pennant in each of the prior 12 seasons going back to the University of Pennsylvania’s Ivy League title in 1969. Richardson dubbed the week-long two-a-days “Preparation H”, a joking reference to the well-known cream used to treat hemorrhoids, with the “H” in this case standing instead for Harvard.

   Callahan knew that Princeton’s 1981-82 squad would have to rely on team depth to carry the day, given the superiority of Harvard’s top-tier players. He also knew that only three members of his starting nine by the early-February time that the Harvard meet occurred had ever previously played in Hemenway Gymnasium, the aging but intimidating Harvard squash mausoleum where so many bad things had befallen Princeton teams over the years, including in 1980, the most recent time that it had hosted a Harvard-Princeton dual meet. On that occasion the Cantabs, led by their invincible superstar Michael Desaulniers, had terminated Princeton’s 43-match winning streak 5-4, with Harvard No. 5 Chip Robie edging out Jason Fish, 15-13 in the fifth, in the last match on court.


    Robie, playing at No. 2 in the ’82 dual meet, would earn a bare-margin win this time as well with an 18-15 fifth-game tally over Loughran that was part of Harvard’s 4-1 advantage in the top-five portion of the lineup. Its star freshman David Boyum won 3-1 at No. 1 over Hill, and Harvard seniors Mitch Reese and Charlie Duffy both prevailed at Nos. 4 and 5 in five games against Barrett and Moore respectively. The only Princeton winner in the top half of the lineup was No. 3 Shepherd, who out-played Geordie Lemmon. For its part, Princeton swept the Nos. 7 through 9 positions, with Evnin winning 3-0 over John Dinneen and Sherry and Fisher both surviving five-gamers against Jim Lubowitz and Tal Johnson respectively. Sherry, who early in his Princeton career had played as high as No. 2, let a two games to love lead get away before reasserting himself in the 15-6 fifth game. Fisher surmounted the disappointment of his inability to convert a fourth-game match-ball and arm-fought his way to a 15-11 fifth-game tally, demonstrating in the process the same match-toughness that had been a trademark of his older brother Bill during Princeton’s memorable late-1970’s run of success.

  Often in a dual meet when one team is superior at the top and the other team is superior in the lower half, the outcome is decided by a “pendulum” match in the middle sector, and that is what happened on this blustery afternoon. Princeton No. 6 Rich Zabel and his fellow “evens” teammates No. 2 Loughran, No. 4 Barrett and No. 8 Sherry had been sitting quietly and nervously in a small room in the bowels of Hemenway while the “odds” matches had gone on first. The galleries were so crowded that they would have had to stand and jockey for position if they had tried to watch their teammates’ matches. Every time someone knocked on the door to let them know that an “odds” match had just ended, they all rose to their feet to see which player’s time had come to begin his match (the No. 2 match was played on the court on which the No. 1 match had been contested, and so on). “It was like Ten Little Indians,” Zabel later remembered. “First Sherry left, then Loughran. It was just two of us, Jamie and me, for about 20 minutes," Zabel added "We were trying to joke, but we knew at least one of our matches would be crucial." Zabel, a high-school wrestler at Trinity School on Manhattan’s upper west side who didn’t start playing squash seriously until his senior year, had plenty to deal with besides pre-match nerves. The powerfully built left-hander had been playing through a strained left quadriceps muscle for weeks and had bruised the nerves near his knee when he banged into a side wall just a few days earlier.

   Zabel’s more experienced opponent, another New Yorker named Spencer Brog, eked out the first game 17-16 and took the second 15-11. He had three match-points in the third game as well, which, as it turned out, were TEAM match-points since as this best-of-nine tiebreaker was being played, Robie completed his fifth-game tiebreaker win over Loughran that kept Harvard’s hopes alive and knotted the team score at four matches apiece. That No. 2 match was played on one of Hemenway’s two “stadium” courts, which had huge galleries, and Robie’s win elicited such an enormous roar of appreciation that Zabel, playing his No. 6 match on one of the nearby side courts, had to have known both from the noise and from the mad spectator rush to the small viewing space in the balcony overlooking his court that Princeton needed to have his match land in the Orange and Black column. Indeed, at one point early in the overtime sequence a front-row spectator leaned so far forward that he momentarily lost his balance and nearly fell onto the court below.

   Ullman, a New Yorker himself who knew both Zabel and Brog and who was one of MANY highly interested onlookers among the mass of people crammed together in the gallery, remembers being struck by the realization that the Ivy League and national championship of two teams consisting mostly of products of New England prep schools and/or fancy private-club junior programs hinged, ironically, not on any of these polished performers but rather on two scrappy New Yorkers battling it out. It WAS a battle, too --- Shepherd, who had raced over to the court early enough after dispatching Lemmon to secure a front-row seat, vividly recalled years later how contentious every point became as the third game neared its climactic conclusion, with plenty of close calls and harsh looks as the players fought for every inch of turf. Neither Zabel nor Brog had a particularly sophisticated game or had received much high-level coaching, but each played aggressive, physical squash and had street smarts and competitive toughness. Boyum, by contrast, was a product of the vaunted junior program at the Heights Casino Club in Brooklyn Heights and his teammates Robie (Choate), Reese and Lemmon (Exeter) and Dinneen (Deerfield) had all attended New England prep schools, as had Barrett (St. Paul’s) and Fisher (Exeter).

   After Zabel scored on a forehand roll-corner and Brog tinned a drive, tying the overtime session at 17-all and causing a simultaneous-game-point, there was a tense exchange at the end of which Zabel was able to conjure up a tight backhand roll-corner (a risky shot due to its proximity to the tin but one of Zabel’s favorite weapons) that barely eluded Brog’s diving retrieval attempt to escape with the third game 18-17. Buoyed by this turn of events, and by this time confident that he had figured out a game plan that would work against Brog (i.e. stay aggressive and keep Brog behind him, thereby eliminating Brog’s big follow-through as a factor), Zabel won the next two games 15-11 and 15-8 to emerge from a frenetic afternoon sporting the hero’s mantle and essentially guaranteeing an Ivy League title. Though initially taken aback by the hostility he sensed from the partisan crowd, Zabel was even welcoming that aspect of the match by the end, explaining, “That just made it more enjoyable. Every point I won was a communal burn." Kneeling in the very first row, Martha Taylor made eye contact with Zabel after many of the points as she cheered him on. A full-fledged team member throughout the two years she served in this position and a constant source of support at practices and dual meets, Taylor later remarked on how “everything changed after Rich was able to get through that third game. You could feel the anxiety in the crowd as they realized that Spencer’s best chance might have come and gone. He had been very cocky, almost dismissive, in the first portion of the match but as Rich gained momentum Spencer’s body language really changed and he began to crumble as the match got away from him. He started trying desperate shots. He never gave up but he did fall apart a bit.” Shepherd agreed that, “It was completely different after that third game. It was clear that Zabel had gotten control and was going to dominate the rest of the way.”

     Afterwards, Zabel insisted on giving much of the credit for his victory to his teammates and Coach Callahan. "The one reason that I've improved is that my teammates are all so great — to play against and to practice with — and Coach has been invaluable," Zabel said. "He's always spent extra time with me on the court, working on little things a lot. And winning the match for the team made it a hundred times sweeter than if I'd just won a match like this at a tournament." Zabel’s teammates were so ecstatic when he hit the final winner that many of them leaped down onto the court from the balcony of the gallery, “like water pouring down a waterfall,” Shepherd remembered, rather than take the longer but less jolting and more prudent option of exiting the gallery and descending a flight of stairs. There was a long group celebration in the court after an exhausting but exhilarating afternoon.
 Women's 2007-08 Championship Run

    There was great optimism heading into the 2007-08 season, especially in the exhilarating aftermath of a Celebration Of 110 Years Of Princeton Squash that took place on October 13th. This event was even better attended than the 100 Year Celebration had been, with well over 200 former men’s and women’s squash players making their way to Jadwin for the occasion. Many former head and assistant coaches attended, including on the women’s side Sally Fields ’73, Nina Moyer, Ann Clark ’80 and Ramsay’s current assistant coach Richard Hankinson. Patrice McConnell ’84 made a thoughtful and touching speech about her former coach Betty Constable, who was unable to attend the event, after which Mr. Hankinson spoke about how much energy and love Emily Goodfellow ’76 had put into the program during her three years at the helm. Then the Coaches Court was dedicated (complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by men’s team alumnus Wistar Wood ‘83) and the “all-American wall”, which listed the nearly 100 Princeton players who had made first-team all-America, 30 of whom were women, was unveiled. Among this number were Meredeth Quick ’01 and the team’s current No 1 Neha Kumar, who played an exhibition match, as did Yasser El Halaby ’06 and the Princeton’s men’s team current No. 1 Mauricio Sanchez.

    This walk down memory lane both reminded the current team members of the program’s praiseworthy past and imbued them with the urgency of further burnishing that legacy in the season that awaited them, which showed plenty of promise but contained a few question marks as well. For one thing, during the first weeks of school tri-captain Casey Riley, who had had such a dominant season at No. 6 after playing even higher earlier in her career, again blew out her right ACL, this time in a fluke incident. She and many of her teammates attended Christina Fast’s 22nd birthday at the Fast residence in Greenwich, and Riley hurt herself when she landed awkwardly while executing a jump on a trampoline that had been set up in the back yard, leaving her availability for the upcoming season uncertain. So to some extent was that of another tri-captain, Margaret Kent, who had gone 13-3 as a freshman and had a win in the near-upset of Yale in 2006 but had missed the 2007 championship run with a stress fracture of the tibia bone in her left lower leg that had sidelined her from early-December 2006 onward. Sophomores Kumar, Siebert and Sennatt were all good to go, as was a fourth member of their class, Emery Maine, a member of the 2005 U.S. Junior Women's squash team that had played in Belgium. She had been recruited for lacrosse and did not play squash as a freshman in order to focus on establishing herself as a first-string attack player on Princeton’s nationally ranked lacrosse team. Maine decided during the summer that she would play squash as well as lacrosse during her sophomore year, and the feeling was that she would be able to swiftly shake off the rust from her 18-month layoff and pay solid dividends. Coach Ramsay liked to recruit squash players who also excelled at other sports; plenty of her players had also played soccer, field hockey, tennis and lacrosse with distinction. She also felt that those who had played the true team sports were more likely to be dedicated and loyal to their squash teammates, and those qualities within the team were extremely important to her. Freshmen Julia Weigel (Heights Casino) and Canadians Jackie Moss, Princeton’s top recruit and the namesake (though unrelated) of a Princeton co-captain of the 1992-93 season, and Nikki Sequeira joined the roster, which was also bolstered by juniors O’Toole and Aly Brady.

   Just as she had done nine years earlier during the run to the 1998 Howe Cup, Ramsay had promised her players during the 2006-07 season that if they won that year’s Howe Cup, she would allow them to arrange a trip during fall break. This time they went to Trinidad and Tobago, where Joanna Scoon had grown up. They all stayed at the Scoon residence during their stay in Tobago and at a hotel when they then moved to Trinidad, where they had a number of matches against the local players. The courts were “outdoors,” meaning that they had a roof but the side walls did not reach it, causing the courts to be hot and very lively. There were fitness drills and squash sessions every day, but the team also rented a boat and did some sight-seeing, snorkeling and hiking, as well as some group jumps into the waterfalls, though Riley, just a few weeks removed from her trampoline episode, wisely did not participate in this latter activity. As it happened, the men’s team had their four-year trip during the same time frame, and when its players returned from Egypt, both teams threw what they called a “Trin-Gyptian party,” a play on the two respective places that they had recently visited. The women players wore Caribbean garb and the men players dressed in Egyptian attire. The two teams were very bonded with each other during those heady years for both programs (the men’s team won four straight Ivy League pennants from 2006-09), almost as though they were one big team, and frequently on Sunday evenings they would all meet at one of the eating clubs – either the Cottage Club, Tiger Inn or the Ivy Club --- for a get-together that was dubbed “Sexy Sunday.”

    Siebert took over the team’s No. 1 slot when she won the mid-January Constable Invitational, defeating her teammate Maine in a five-game semifinal and then winning the final, 10-8 in the fourth, over Trinity’s Tehani Guruge, who had advanced to that stage by out-playing Princetonians Grabowski, Moss and the 2007 champion Kumar. Remarkably, Riley was already back in action at her pre-injury mid-lineup position by then. From her prior ACL tears, she was aware that if she underwent an operation, she would likely be sidelined for her entire senior season. Therefore, in consultation with her surgeon, Dr. Arthur Bartolozzi, she made the gutsy decision to try to delay the operation until the spring and embark on an intense physical-therapy regimen that she hoped would allow her to “manage” her knee issue and play through the injury. This plan worked so well that she actually won the Constable B draw by conquering her teammate Joanna Scoon in a four-game final. Throughout that season, Riley wore a big brace on her knee to provide it with additional support. She and her fellow tri-captains Grabowski and Kent all showed up dressed as Quakers during the last team practice session before the season’s first big test on the road against Penn shortly after the conclusion of final exams. The three captains stood at the front wall in their Quaker garb (including hats) while their teammates pelted them with pink foam balls (the type used to teach squash to children) to symbolize the treatment that the team hoped to have in store for the Penn players.

    The Penn matches, especially when they were at the Ringe Courts, always had a different atmosphere, since they were contested on a Wednesday evening rather than a weekend afternoon. The fact that a number of the Princeton players were from the Philadelphia area, and would therefore be playing in front of their friends and parents, added an extra, more personal dimension, as did the fact that Penn’s women’s coach was Jack Wyant, Princeton Class of ’96, Missy’s older brother. Jack Wyant brought the same level of intensity and competitive zeal into his coaching position at Penn that he had displayed as a three-year captain of the Princeton men’s squash team (and, for that matter, that Missy had evinced during her two-year captaincy of the women’s team), and, though he loved the years he had spent at Old Nassau, that very experience paradoxically sharpened his wish to have his Penn team knock off his alma mater.

   Riley, who turned 22 on the day of the Penn meet, won her match against Christina Matthias, as part of a 3-0 sweep of the first tier of matches that included wins by Moss and Kent. Grabowski then quickly cashed in a fourth Princeton win in as many completed matches in the most one-sided score of the day, 9-1, 1 and 3. Shockingly, the dual meet then took a complete about-face as Penn, fueled by a hometown crowd that grew increasingly loud and raucous as the possibility of knocking off the reigning champs became greater, swept all five of the remaining matches to hand Princeton its first setback since the 2006 Howe Cup. Sennatt absorbed the first loss of her college dual-meet career, and an out-of-sorts, physically sub-par Kumar lost 3-0 to Alisha Turner. Lange then won, 9-1 in the fourth, over Siebert, Annie Madeira took her match with O’Toole in four games and at No. 4 Tara Chawla, after a prolonged mid-match slump, gained her top form in time to emerge victorious against Maine by a score of 9-4, 2-9, 2-9, 9-6, 9-3. Almost every match had an unpleasant feel to it, with the play being physical to the point of chippy-ness, which had an impact on the refereeing as well. After the matches ended, the Penn players and coaching staff celebrated their victory in what struck some of the Princeton players as a rather taunting way.


   The tenor of the entire experience left several Princeton players fuming and plotting revenge. Clearly there was no love lost between the two teams. Riley expressed a number of her teammates’ viewpoint when she said, “It was hard to see our undefeated streak broken, especially by a team like Penn. Although they deserved to win that night, they certainly will not be as successful at the Howe Cup.” The feeling among the Princeton players was that a number of the members of Penn’s team were a little too talky and cocky, “a bit arrogant and full of themselves for a team that’s never won anything,” according to one Princeton player. Riley, who had more “skin in the game” than anyone on Princeton’s team due to her insistence on playing even with a torn ACL, also expressed to her teammates that they may have become “complacent” after winning the 2007 Howe Cup, and that they all needed to learn from this loss and step up their conditioning and commitment, including reviving the team-wide “go dry” policy of the prior season. It was a praiseworthy case of a captain truly stepping forward and being a captain, and she and her chastened teammates took some of their anger out on Yale three days later with a 6-3 home win. The Elis had tremendous strength at the top of their lineup, with Ranieri, Logan Greer and Sarah Toomey all winning in straight games over Siebert, Kumar and Moss respectively, But Princeton swept the rest of the board clean, with No. 4 Maine and No. 5 Sennatt both winning in five games (in Sennatt’s case 9-0 in the fifth after dropping the first two games) and Riley, O’Toole, Grabowski and Kent all handily prevailing as well.

  Afterwards Grabowski reflected on the degree to which the loss to Penn might have been a blessing in disguise. “We were really pumped up for the Yale match,” she declared. “The loss to Penn a few days before really woke us up. It brought us together as a team better than anything else could have. Before we knew how to play for ourselves, but after, we understood how to play for the team.” The following day, Princeton shut out Mark Talbott’s Stanford squad, with the highlight being Siebert’s four-game win at No. 1 over the 2006 Intercollegiate champion Lily Lorentzen, who had transferred from Harvard after having led the Crimson to the 2006 Ivy League pennant. The team then posted a 6-3 road win over a Harvard team that was struggling through a rare down season in the wake of the loss of five members of the 2007 starting nine to graduation, as well as the severe hip-flexor injury that plagued Balsekar throughout that winter. The dual-meet season then ended with a 5-4 loss to Trinity at Hartford, in which Riley lost in five games to Jo-Ann Jee and Maine did the same against Nayelly Hernandez.  This disappointment aside, the Tigers kept their eyes trained firmly on the prize, i.e. the looming Howe Cup, which would be held in the friendly confines of Jadwin Gymnasium, where they hadn’t lost in more than two years.

   They wouldn’t lose there that weekend either. They took the measure of Yale in a semifinal in which Princeton, spurred by No. 3 Moss’s dramatic fifth-game surge from 5-8 to 10-8 that avenged her loss to Toomey a few weeks earlier, swept the Nos. 3 through 9 matches to qualify for a final-round battle against Penn, which had won its semifinal against Trinity. The Princeton players had been laying for the Quakers ever since their four matches to love lead had slipped away four weeks earlier in Philadelphia, and they were happy to be playing them again, this time on their own home turf and this time for all the marbles. When the climactic battle began, Penn got off to a good start by winning two of the three first-tier matches, with only Sennatt getting on the scoreboard with her repeat win over Matthias at No. 6. But in the second shift, No. 5 Riley beat Hebden, three games to love, the same score by which No. 8 O’Toole triumphed over Emily Goodwin. The No. 2 match slotted Kumar against her Canadian compatriot (and former training partner) Turner, who had won their dual-meet encounter, three games to love.

   Turner took a 7-3 lead in the opening game, but Kumar, who had struggled with an ankle injury through the entire second half of the season, went on a shot-making tear that brought her that game 9-7 and the second 9-6. In the third game, Turner courageously saved several match-balls against her and tied the game at 8-all. The match was definitely in the balance at that juncture, but Kumar was able to get the serve back and win the game 10-8. Her win put Princeton ahead four matches to two and on the brink of clinching a second straight Howe Cup. Afterwards, Kumar described the mindset that she had to achieve that allowed her to play at her best level even while dealing with the pain in her ankle. “Mentally, my strategy was to block out the pain I was feeling and to make my body think that it was 100 percent and could do whatever my mind wanted it to do,” she said. “I also focused on taking one point at a time and thinking of the strengths of my game and avoided thinking about what I was missing or could not do because of my injury.” Kumar had been in top physical shape when that season began after spending the summer doing track workouts and core muscle exercises under the guidance of Mark McKoy, a Canadian hurdler who had won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. But she had badly sprained her right ankle while competing in a women’s pro tournament early that winter, requiring her to have the ankle heavily taped, over and above the brace she had worn for years after suffering a number of ankle sprains during her years playing the Junior tournament circuit (and winning the Canadian National Juniors in several age categories).

   With Lange favored to defeat Siebert at No. 1, Princeton still needed a win from either Maine at No. 4 or Grabowski at No. 7. Grabowski, who had scored the Cup clincher against Harvard a year earlier, was on the verge of duplicating this achievement when she twice held a third-game match-ball against Madeira, only to be stymied both times as Madeira eked out a 10-9 score to keep alive Penn’s hopes of staging the same kind of eleventh-hour rally that its members had pulled off at Ringe less than a month earlier. But after splitting the first two games of her match against Tara Chawla, Maine, who had sustained brutal five-game defeats in deciding matches against both Penn and Trinity during the prior few weeks, totally dominated the 9-1, 9-0 remainder to seal Penn’s fate. She had wanted a rematch with Chawla ever since losing to her in the dual meet and knew she needed to attack much more this time around. Even after winning the one-sided third game to go up two games to one, Maine was keenly aware that she had also led Chawla by that margin in the earlier match and had allowed her opponent to wrest control away from her.

   Determined not to allow a repeat, Maine re-entered the court for the fourth game strongly focused on the importance of the opening sequence of points, which she dominated and never looked back. In the immediate aftermath of her victory, she and many of her teammates embraced each other in the hallway just outside her court, but they stayed relatively restrained out of respect for the fact that Grabowski and Madeira were still duking it out and each still wanted to win, even with the team outcome now accounted for. Grabowski wound up winning, 9-7 in the fifth, to close out the 6-3 score, leading to a huge team-wide celebration just outside the main gallery court. Afterwards, Maine hearkened back to the dual meet with Penn. “I think that the previous loss to Penn actually made us stronger going into the finals,” she said, echoing Grabowski’s comments after the early-February win over Yale. “We wanted it more, and we had learned from our mistakes and were determined to get revenge. We had great leadership, and we all wanted to win for each other, which is something that I think makes our team really special. We truly were a team in everything that we did, win together, lose together, so to be able to share this great accomplishment with each other and to come out on top is really special.” Although Sennatt likewise felt that the Penn match was a key part of the championship, she experienced its import slightly differently than her teammates, claiming that it paradoxically took some of the pressure of being defending champs off the team, enabling the players to go through the remainder of the season and into the Howe Cup with less of a target on their backs. Noting that the team hadn’t lost since the 2006 Howe Cup, Sennatt said that it “was good to know what losing felt like” in order to motivate the team not to have that sour taste in their mouths again anytime soon.

   Heart-felt tribute was paid to Riley, Kumar and Grabowski, all three of whom came back from significant injuries to capture crucial matches in the Howe Cup final. Riley, who swept all three of her weekend matches and showed up for her match with Hebden wearing orange nail polish to mark the occasion of this being her last competitive appearance at Jadwin, declared, “This is even more exciting than last year because we were the underdog. We had great fan support with huge crowds today. I couldn't think of a better way to end my career.” Riley’s ability to consistently win matches throughout her college career in spite of her continuing significant knee issues was a source of wonderment to her teammates, and largely due to what one of them called her “insanely good hands.” Her lateral movement was noticeably compromised by her ACL injuries, but she made up for it by establishing favorable court positioning and by executing a lethal shallow forehand kill shot. In July, Riley underwent surgery to repair her ACL.

    For Grabowski, whose left knee had swelled up like a grapefruit in November, causing fluid to have to be drained and necessitating frequent physical therapy sessions in December and January, the repeat title was especially sweet considering the hurdles that she and her Princeton teammates overcame along the way. "It was pure joy, almost a feeling of shock," said Grabowski, who, in addition to her squash exploits, was named to the All-Ivy Academic team in the spring. "We had been working for this since September and the start of preseason. It was awesome. Last year we had such a strong team and all the matches were 6-3 or better. This year we had to come from behind. It was more of a challenge to have the team operate as one unit. We had to work harder; it was special."

   She had actually trailed Madeira 7-5 in the fifth game, but even though by then she knew that the outcome of her match didn’t matter since the Cup had already been secured, nevertheless her mindset was, in her words, “I wasn't coming off that court without a win. I didn't want to lose in front of my family and friends, so I pulled something down deep." Although Grabowski would have loved to have converted one of her third-game match-balls, ultimately she was happy that it was Maine who provided the Cup-clincher, given what a valuable addition Maine had been all season and in light of how distraught Maine had been after her dual-meet loss to Chawla. Indeed, during the trophy presentation, Ramsay explicitly cited Maine’s decision to return to competitive squash as having been a crucial part of that season’s championship drive.

   An ecstatic Coach Ramsay basked in the glow of this companion-piece to the 1998/1999 Howe Cup “double.” Both times her troops had been required to win the second Howe Cup final against a team that had beaten them during the regular season. "I was so thankful," she asserted. "They worked so hard and wanted it so much. It was one of those things; it hasn't always happened for teams that worked hard. Last year was an incredible feat but this was great in a different way. For me as a coach, it was more of a challenge. I spent a lot of time on the court with them; they were really committed." Though still hampered by her ailing ankle even after resting it throughout the week between the Howe Cup and the Individuals at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Kumar was able to advance to the quarterfinals, where she lost to the eventual champion Ranieri, who defeated Lange in the finals.

   The very next day after returning from Maryland, while her teammates relaxed and enjoyed their second straight Howe Cup triumph, an understandably still-fatigued Maine had to go to lacrosse practice, having missed the entire preseason due to the substantial overlap between the two sports. She played sparingly on the lacrosse team that spring, by the end of which she realized that playing on two consecutive-season teams was not realistic and that she would have to choose one or the other. Her experience on the squash team that winter, culminating as it had in her winning the deciding point in the championship round, made the decision a no-brainer for this multi-talented athlete.