Saunders Plays Marathon Final Day, Falls Just Short Of Holleran Cup
Junior Lexi Saunders tried to win back-to-back marathons during Sunday's final day of the college squash season. After topping teammate Alex Sawin in one Holleran Cup semifinal, she dropped a 3-2 thriller to Stanford No. 3 Madeline Gill in the finale.
Saunders, who played No. 6 for the Ivy League champion Princeton women's squash team, actually started her marathon run during the quarterfinal round, when she upset fourth-seeded Issy Norman-Ross of Yale in the quarterfinals. The win, which was capped with an 11-9 victory in the fifth game, reversed a regular season 3-1 home win for Norman-Ross and sent Saunders into an all-Princeton semifinal.
Saunders played Sawin, the Princeton No. 7 player. While Saunders may have had the edge in the varsity ladder, Sawin had only played three games in her quarterfinal. The two classmates put on a terrific show, with Sawin taking wins of 14-12 and 11-9 to earn a 2-1 lead. Saunders battled back 11-9 in the fourth, and the two went extra points before Saunders closed it with a 13-11 victory.
That match started at 9 am, and Saunders was scheduled to get back on the court at noon for the final. She started quickly against Gill with an 11-9 win, but her Stanford opponent took the next two. Saunders continued to show resilience and claimed an 11-9 win in the fourth, but Gill finally took control and won 11-7 in the fifth. Saunders' remarkable run fell just short, but the deep runs by her, Sawin, Hallie Dewey (Round of 16) and Tara Harrington (second-round consolation finalist) shows just how much depth Princeton will return next season.
Princeton will also return three players from the 'A' draw, including Libby Eyre, who reached the quarterfinal and nearly shocked 2011 national champion Millie Tomlinson of Yale. Sophomore Nicole Bunyan and freshman Rachel Leizman, both of whom provided key wins during Princeton's championship run, will also return.
Of course, Princeton's lone loss from the 'A' draw will be a considerable one. Senior co-captain Julie Cerullo will end her career as a four-time All-America, as well as a two-time CSA semifinalist. More than any individual result, though, she may best be remembered for leading the 2013 squad through a dramatic, unbeaten run through Ivy League play to capture the program's sixth league title.