Squash Coach Forecasts Weekend

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If you think the Harvard women’s squash team (6-0, 3-0 Ivy) had it tough last weekend in terms of opposition, just look at the pair of foes coming up on the schedule. The Crimson will host No. 3 Penn on Saturday and No. 7 Princeton the following day. The only comfort for Harvard (and luckily for squash fans on campus) is that all this will be taking place on home territory at the Barnaby Courts.

It seems like the Crimson is cruising to a national title after beating No. 2 Trinity, 7-2, and No. 6 Stanford, 8-1, in back-to-back days. It was a physically exhausting stretch and a challenge for the women’s team. This past weekend marked the first time that Harvard dropped any matchup, going 9-0 in the first four games of the season. This weekend, the Crimson hopes to maintain its perfect record and escape unscathed.

Harvard coach Satinder Bajwa granted The Back Page an interview on Sunday after the Crimson handily beat its West Coast rivals. He shared his thoughts on the mentality of the team and its preparation in the days leading up to another taxing weekend.

Bajwa on the team dropping games to Trinity:

“Even the best of the best are going to have a bad day. But the best people win when they have a bad day. [Saturday] what we didn’t have was a bad day; what we had was different conditions. So when you play against Trinity, they’re the only one with panel courts. Their glass courts are different colors. The girls had a hard time adjusting to the conditions, so we lost a couple of matches. That’s all. In terms of if they were to play again, every one of them is capable of winning their match at a neutral place.”

Last weekend, sophomore Nirasha Guruge had an uncharacteristic loss, her first of the season, against Stanford’s Pamela Chua. Bajwa had this to say:

“I wasn’t surprised. I think Nirasha would win that match next time; it’s not a match that she can’t win.  But she played a five game match [Saturday], and she had to come up from behind because she couldn’t get used to the court. She had to work very hard to win that match, and [Sunday] she lost a little edge from having to play [Saturday]. I personally think sometimes you can have a bad win and a good loss.”

Forecast on the rest of the season:

“Injuries and well-being of the team is key to winning. Good planning for them so that they can perform on the day is the coach’s job. The work is done now, so it is a matter of being there. If belief is there and there are no injuries, then we should win.”

When asked about the Harvard-Princeton rivalry, Bajwa felt like it wasn’t going to play as big a role as it did last year when the Tigers’ championship team beat the Crimson in a heartbreaker, 5-4. Here’s what he clarified:

“I know that Princeton just recently beat Yale, but the stronger opponent coming into the match is Penn. Penn beat Princeton. [Last weekend] the toughest match on paper came [Saturday], and the next one will be on [next] Saturday. But it doesn’t get any easier playing Princeton the day after.”

Harvard’s preparation:

“We’re focusing on quality over quantity. Sometimes they feel like if you hang around the squash courts you’ll get better. The girls understand that they must do one and a half hours of quality training, and then save your energy and recover. Training and recovering at the same time is key.”

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