January 31, 2018

Boasting Talent Throughout Its Lineup, Undefeated PU Women’s Squash Ranked No. 1

LIVING IT UP: Princeton University women’s squash player Olivia Fiechter covers the court in recent action. Senior star Fiechter is 8-0 at No. 1 so far this season, helping Princeton post a 9-0 start on the way to being ranked No. 1 nationally. In upcoming action, the Tigers hit the road for matches at Penn in January 31, at Harvard on February 3, and at Dartmouth on February 4. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communication)

By Bill Alden

For the Princeton University women’s squash team, inserting three freshmen into its starting lineup has made it stronger from top to bottom.

“We have a good mix, people that were higher are now in the middle,” said Princeton head coach Gail Ramsay, whose squad is 9-0 and now ranked No. 1 nationally. “We are competitive with everybody because we are deeper.”

A lot of that increased depth is thanks to the trio of newcomers with freshman Raneem El Torky  playing at No. 2 with classmate Grace Doyle at No. 3 and Emme Leonard at No. 6.

“El Torky is an Egyptian player who went to Milton Academy (Mass.) for three years and had to adjust to being here,” said Ramsay.

“Now she is able to work harder on her game; she is doing pretty well overall. I thought she would definitely help. Doyle has been a little injured. She has come around now and is back in the lineup. Leonard is better than I thought she would be at the start. She is a really hard worker, she is really determined.”

Senior star Olivia Fiechter has shown determination, overcoming injures to produce an undefeated start at No.1.

“Olivia is back and she is doing well so far,” said Ramsay. “She has had some good wins, considering that she hadn’t played a lot of matches in the last two years. She is not perfect but she is able to play in back-to-back. She is better than most of the girls period whether she is 100 percent or not.”

The bottom third of the lineup of Kira Keating at No. 7, Isabel Hirshberg at No. 8, and sophomore Madison Soukup at No. 9 is formidable, playing a key role with a sweep in Princeton’s dramatic rally over No. 2 Trinity that saw the Tigers overcome a 4-1 deficit to post a 5-4 victory.

“Kira is a captain with good experience,” said Ramsay. “Izzy has played as high as two for us so she knows how to put it together. She is a hard player to play. Madison is coming into her own; she is a very good athlete and an improving squash player.”

Junior Samantha Chai and sophomore Morgan Steelman have bolstered the middle spots, playing at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.

“Sam played pretty high last year; she was at No. 3 a couple of times,” said Ramsay.

“She is determined, competitive, and is fit. She is smart, she doesn’t make a lot of silly mistakes. She stays with it and often ends up wearing her opponent down, which is the name of the game. Morgan is a little bit injured but she is managing it better now. She needs to add a couple of things to her game to really feel comfortable where she is right now.”

With the Tigers hitting the road for matches at Penn in January 31, at Harvard on February 3, and at Dartmouth on February 4, Princeton will need to compete hard to remain undefeated.

“The Penn match will be tough because we are away; they have had an in-and-out lineup because of injury,” said Ramsay. “Harvard will really be a challenge, because on paper, they are a little better than we are. On a given day with a little nerves you never know.”

Looking ahead to the Howe Cup national championships in mid-February, Ramsay sees her team as a title contender.

“If we stay healthy moving forward, I think we are in the mix,” said Ramsay.  “I have to say that there are some pretty good teams out there and if we don’t take care of business, anything can happen.”