2010-11 Women's Squash Inaugural Season Preview
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics

NEW YORK - On Friday, November 19, the Columbia women's squash team will compete in its first match as a varsity team.  This year's squad features a mix of veterans from the club program, in addition to a handful of new faces, all eager to start this program off on a high note.

Under first-year head coach Kelsey Engman, the Lions will look to build off last season's success as a club.  The team finished 5-10 overall, and with a final team ranking of 25th in the country after winning the Epps Cup (D Division) at the Women's National Team Championships. This year the team hopes to compete and finish in the high "C" or low "B" division at the Women's National Team Championship.

This year's ladder of 10 players features of perfect split of new and old.  Five members return from last year's lineup, while five newcomers fill in remaining five spots.

The top half of the lineup features Liz Chu '12CC, Katie Quan '14CC, Monica Stone '14CC, Annie Tickell '13CC, and Skylar Dickey '14BC.

Chu and Quan have battled back and forth in the preseason for the number one spot.  Chu returns strong after having played #1 for the team last year.  Quan, who won the team tournament earlier in the fall, joins the squad as a first-year after a successful high school career at Exeter.

The two other first-years in the top-five include Stone who comes to Columbia from Episcopal, and Dickey from William Penn Charter, while Tickell played #2 for the Lions last year as a first-year.

Spots six through 10 feature two more first-years and three returners - Morgan Strauss '14SEAS, Jenny Schroder '14BC, Anne Cheng '11BC, Lindsey Harris '13BC and Kate Hansen '12SEAS.

Strauss and Schroder arrive to Morningside Heights from William Penn Charter and Lawrenceville, respectively, while Cheng played #3 for Columbia last year, Harris played #8, and Hansen played #9.

This year's team will be led by Chu, a junior, and Cheng, a senior, both of whom have played for the team since their freshmen year. Chu played #1 last season for the Lions, while Cheng played #3.  Both student-athletes are excited and honored to be the leaders in the program's inaugural varsity season.

"Ever since my freshman year, the idea of it going varsity has been there," said Cheng.  "I played on the varsity team at my high school, so I'm excited to get back to that similar mentality." 

Added Chu, "It's exciting to be able to say we were there at the beginning and the start of all this, because we are essentially making history, and its nice to be there at the start."

The Lions will play their only Ivy League match in the season-opener against fourth-ranked Princeton on November 19.  The following day, Columbia will play George Washington and Georgetown in Washington, D.C. in its last competition until January 2011.

The Lions will open the new year at the Pioneer Valley Invitational, January 14-16.  Next up, the team will face Northeastern and Vassar on January 29, before hosting back-to-back home matches against Middlebury and Haverford on January 30 and February 6, respectively.  The team will have one last tune up at Vassar on February 12 before Women's Nationals on February 18-20 in Princeton, N.J., and Individual National Championships on March 4-6 in Hanover, N.H.