JUSTIN FORTIER ’18
It was a challenging moment as Trinity’s women lost in the semifinal round of the National Squash Championships to Harvard. The Crimson have been one of the most formidable opponents for the Bantams over the past couple years for both the men and women. Trinity’s last win of the Howe cup was in 2014, a spectacular retaliation to a win from the Harvard women in 2013, but now it has been back to back crushing blows from Harvard for the lady Bants.
In 2015 the run for the national title ended with a disheartening loss in the final match, 7-2 to the Crimson. Notably from the final, Harvard’s Amanda Sobhy defeated Trinty’s top player Kanzy El Defrawy ’16 3-0. These two players were the two highest ranked players in 2015, with Sohby eventually defeating El Defrawy in the College Squash Association individual championships as well. This is a rivalry for the ages that transcended through the Sohby family to Amanda’s younger sister Sabrina, a freshman at Harvard who replaced her graduated sister as number one. Although Trinity was unable to edge Harvard in the semifinals, losing with a close 5-4 result, El Defrawy emerged from their final college matchup victorious with a vengeful 3-0 retaliation after last year’s disappointment.
After the loss to Harvard, Trinity came back to clinch a tight win over the Princeton Tigers. It was a nail-biter of a match but Trinity pulled away with the victory thanks to 3-0 dominating performances by El Defrawy, Anna Kimberly ’17, and co-captain Sachika Balvani ’16. These strong indivudaul performances supported the others in their close matches and gave Trinity the momentum to seize the bronze for the team nationals. While this finish may have been a disappointment for Trinity it is still a remarkable accomplishment from an objective standpoint.
In the CSA individual championships the Bantams accomplished what they could not in team play. El Defrawy went on to win the National Individual Championship over Reeham Sedky of the University of Pennsylvania. Over the years Defrawy has amassed a list of accolades to her name such as a three-time First Team All-American, a four-time NESCAC Player of the Year and the 2012-2013 NESCAC Rookie of the Year. This year she was the recipient of the Richey Award which is voted on by CSA players and coaches, is given annually to a women’s college squash player who best exemplifies the ideals of squash in her love of and devotion to the game, her strong sense of fairness, and her excellence of play and leadership. It is the highest individual honor in women’s college squash.
As a first-year player, Sedky has had less time to accumulate collegiate accolades. However, she brings an impressive junior resume to college squash. She was a member of the US Junior Worlds teams in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In addition, she captured the 2015 U19 U.S. Nationals Squash Tournament.
Back in January the two met briefly in competition in the regular season. Sedky won the first game, 11-9, while El Defrawy won the second game, 11-9. Sedky was forced to withdrawal with an injury before the match could be played to completion.
As reported by the College Squash Association, the match was a riveting battle, “Sedky built up a lead in the first game, but El Defrawy battled back to tie the game at 11-all. A no-let call put Sedky at game ball. El Defrawy dove to recover a shot, but it wasn’t enough. Sedky won the first game 13-11.
In the second game, Sedky again built up a small lead. El Defrawy tied the score at 5-all, then broke a string. After two no-let calls in a row, Sedky led 7-5. El Defrawy hit the nick to tie the game 7-all. She won the next four points, unanswered, and dove on a long point to win the game 11-7, tying the game score at 1-all.
El Defrawy opened with an ace on her serve and went out to a 4-0 lead. Sedky tinned a shot and then another for El Defrawy to go up 6-0. El Defrawy tinned a shot of her own for Sedky to finally get on the board at 1-6. El Defrawy powered ahead to win the game 11-3. She was within a game of the national title.
In game four, El Defrawy went out to a 3-0 lead thanks, in part, to stokes. Sedky wasn’t about to let El Defrawy get away. She closed the gap to 3-4, forcing El Defrawy to dive and miss a shot. A stroke to El Defrawy brought the score to 5-3 for the Trinity senior, who broke another string and had to hunt for another racquet, having gone through her spares. She was able to borrow one from a teammate, albeit a frame from a different maker than the one she had been using. El Defrawy went out to a 8-4 lead, tinning once as she adjusted to the new racquet. At 8-4 the players collided violently, sending them both the ground. The referee came onto the court, talking to Sedky. A stroke to Sedky in the next point brought the score to 5-8. More strokes brought the score to 9-6 for El Defrawy. A tin from Sedky brought El Defrawy to match ball. The next point was El Defrawy’s, and with the 11-7 win in the fourth, she was the 2016 individual champion!”
JUSTIN FORTIER ’18