Individually, Julie Cerullo had already accomplished more than most at Princeton. A three-time All-America, Cerullo was driven by team success as she entered her senior season. Though there is more to go, the senior co-captain talks about her time at Princeton and the team's dramatic push to a sixth Ivy League title (click play link above).
Cerullo was recently named one of three finalists for the prestigious Richey Award, which is "given annually to the 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
Four Princeton players have won the award, including 2011-12 captain Katie Giovinazzo. Cerullo is nominated with Penn's Nabilla Ariffin and Stanford's Pamela Chua; she defeated both players earlier this season.
"Her leadership and team camaraderie have help unify the Princeton team
in many ways," head coach Gail Ramsay said in nominating Cerullo. "She is hard working and organized, and through her example
has motivated her peers to set their goals high and to be determined to
meet them. Her planning and organizing have been a big part of her own
development, and her teammates can see how important it is to have a
vision and to follow up with hard work.
"In her leadership role Julie has
helped me to understand and connect better with her and to other team
members," Ramsay added. "She has a mature approach to relationships, and I have found
this to be important uniting the team. She is very objective and honest
which are valuable qualities to have and to share."
Cerullo has played at or near the top of the Princeton lineup since her freshman season. She announced herself as a national contender during her rookie season, when she defeated Trinity's Nour Baghat during the regular season; Baghat had won the national title in 2009 and had yet to lose a collegiate match before meeting Cerullo.
Since her sophomore season, Cerullo has been a fixture at No. 1 for Princeton. She has reached the individual semifinals as both a sophomore and a junior, and she has led Princeton to the Howe Cup semifinals both years.
With only one year remaining, she knew there was no margin for error in her championship hopes. Despite coming into the season ranked fourth, Cerullo believed in the depth of the program and knew Princeton could compete with anybody.
Following a 5-4 win over reigning champion Harvard in mid-January, everybody else realized that as well. Princeton defeated No. 3 Penn 9-0 and No. 5 Yale 5-4 to lead into last weekend, when victories over both Cornell and Columbia clinched the outright Ivy League title.
Princeton will head into the Howe Cup this weekend as the top seed; check back Thursday for a full video/written preview of the 2013 championships, being held at the Brady Squash Center.