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Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012 9:42 p.m.

Women’s squash team captures C-division national championship

Sophomore Jackie Shea prepares to return the ball back to her Bucknell opponent during this year's Senior Day | Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jake Deitcher.

The women’s squash team’s season was best defined as a rollercoaster.

The Colonials (13-9) had winning streaks of four and three matches, but also saw losing streaks that lasted four and three matches.

The ride of competition came to a satisfying end Sunday, when No. 19 GW captured 2012 Walker Cup to claim the C-Division championship at the College Squash Association Team Nationals. The victory echoes the C-Division national championship claimed by the men’s squad last week, cementing two trophies for head coach Wendy Lawrence.

“It’s more than twice as sweet to win twice,” head coach Wendy Lawrence said. “We weren’t sure if we could pull this out. But when we did come through it was great.”

The Colonials arrived in Cambridge, Mass. a well-rested squad after a two-week break from competition. To open play, GW swept No. 22 Connecticut College 9-0 in the first round, winning all matches in straight sets.

That victory which set up a semifinals match up favored No. 18 Amherst, a team that also defeated its first round opponent 9-0. Though underdogs, GW outlasted Amherst 5-4 to ultimately reach the finals against No. 20 Wesleyan. GW easily defeated Wesleyan 7-2 to claim the Walker Cup and earn the GW squash program its second national championship in two weeks.

“We weren’t as confident as the men’s team but after we beat Amherst we knew that the finals would be easier for us,” Lawrence said. “And they really wanted to come through after watching the guys win. Once the men won they were all over it, thinking it’s our turn.”

The women’s team last won the Walker Cup in 2010, when they defeated Vassar, but the core of the current squad was not yet at GW to witness that victory. This year’s Walker Cup winning squad was led by underclassmen who played like seasoned veterans.

The Colonials were paced by sophomores Jackie Shea and Kelly Barnes, Nos. 1 and 2 on the team ladder, respectively, and were boosted by clutch performances from other members of the program. Against Amherst, Barnes lost in 5 sets, but senior Tiffany Hingley and sophomores Maya Nair and Elizabeth Tapley all turned in crucial five-set victories. Shea and Barnes next travel to the Individual National Championships, joining fellow champions from the men’s squad, juniors Islam El-Fiky and Omar Sobhy.

The one constant for both of the men’s and women’s squash programs remains Lawrence, who became the head coach of the men’s team in 2007 and assumed the title of head coach for both the men’s and women’s teams in 2010. Though the two programs compete separately, Lawrence attributes their respective successes to a healthy competition that motivates both teams.

“They really do support one another and are very close-knit,” Lawrence said. “But at the same time they are competitive with each other which works out great. They want each other to do well, but still want to be the better team.”