Women's Squash | New coaches, seasoned veterans to lead Jumbos
Published: Friday, November 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 16, 2012 08:11
After a 2011-2012 campaign that saw the Jumbos finish 11-16 overall and 2-11 in NESCAC play, the team will be looking to capitalize on a strong mix of both new and returning players, a combination that senior co-captains Jessica Rubine and Hafsa Chaudhry believe will help the team improve upon last year.
But the roster is not the only critical feature of the team heading into the season — just two weeks ago, Tufts finally filled the vacancy created by the departure of longtime head coach Doug Eng.
New head coach Joe McManus brings an extensive knowledge of squash to the teams, as he has coached previously at two Massachusetts private schools and also currently serves as the Commissioner and CEO of the Pro Squash Tour.
Meanwhile, assistant coaches Edwin Lennox and Eric Lamsa hail from South Africa and Canada, respectively, and each brings a fresh knowledge of the game as both are currently playing on the Tour. Though the team has only practiced for a few weeks with the new coaches, Rubine and Chaudhry are already noticing improvement in both their own skills as well those of the other squad members.
“While we have gotten used to having two different coaches for the men’s and women’s teams the past two seasons, the transition has definitely been smooth and practices are going really well,” Rubine said. “Coach McManus has been tremendous for us so far, but it’s also been great to have coaches like [Lennox] and [Lamsa] to help us [because] they are each current players.”
However, the captains agree that regardless of the new coaching, the season will feature a number of tough matches for the Jumbos. All of the players are preparing themselves to face the challenges that top opponents in the area bring to the table.
“I’m definitely looking forward to matches against Wellesley, Colby and Conn. College,” Chaudhry said. “They all provide great tests for us, but I’m confident that with our current practice and workout schedules, everyone will definitely improve and be prepared for those battles.”
Key victories for Tufts last season included a 9-0 win over Wellesley, as well as a close, hard-fought 5-4 NESCAC win over Colby last December. The Jumbos will face Wellesley twice this season, once on Nov. 28 at MIT and then again at Wellesley on Feb. 5, only a week after the NESCAC Championships. The Jumbos will also face Conn. College in a pivotal NESCAC matchup on January 19.
The women’s team also brings back five seniors from a year ago, all of which will provide a confident mentality as well as leadership skills to help the younger players succeed this season. According to Chaudhry, having older players create a positive atmosphere is one of the most successful ways to foster team development.
“Whenever I’m working with new players, I try to stay positive and remind them that they will most definitely improve over time,” Chaudhry said. “For me included, going into matches with a low stress level and a confident attitude can make all the difference.”
Rubine believes that goals that she and each of her teammates have set for the upcoming season will contribute a successful year.
“I remind myself that anything can happen in a match on any given day,” Rubine said. “We can win any match if we put our minds to it, especially as long as we remember to also have fun as a team in the process.”
The Jumbos are set to open their season this Sunday against Boston College. Though the match is considered the home opener, it will be played at MIT.