February 1, 2002  

Contact: Adam Levin
Phone: (207) 786-6411




LEWISTON, Maine — The Bates College women's squash team was ranked ninth in the most recent Women's Intercollegiate Squash Association (WISA) national poll, marking the first time in school history the program has cracked the top 10 in the nation.

Under sixth-year head coach John Illig, the Bobcats (11-4) have won their last five matches and seven of their last eight. The 11 wins are tied for the fifth-highest single-season total in school history with six matches left to play. If the Bobcats win all six of their remaining matches, they would match the 17-win season from 1996-97, Illig's first season at Bates, but it would come against a much more difficult schedule. Among the Bobcats' wins this season are a 5-4 victory over the University of Pennsylvania Jan. 13, the first in school history, and a 7-2 win over in-state rival Bowdoin College Jan. 29, Bates' first win over the Polar Bears during Illig's tenure.

"This year's team has a great mix of veterans and the newcomers," Illig said. "We are much deeper than we have ever been with a great first-year class. I am excited for the team's future."

The Bobcats are led by senior Aisha Shah of Bombay, India, the first squash All-American in Bates history. Shah boasts an 11-4 record this season and is 52-26 in her career. She has played No. 1 for Bates since her first season, making Shah the first woman in Bates history to play in the top spot for four years running. Last year, she went 2-1 at the WISA Individual championships to earn All-America honors.

Illig's squad has improved its standing from 2001 thanks in large part to an impressive first-year class. The Bobcats boast five rookies in their top nine players: No. 2 Sarah Persing of Madison, Conn. (9-6 record); No. 4 Jenny Loring of Beverly Farms, Mass. (12-3); Maggie Smith of Bel Air, Md., who was 7-3 at No. 5 before sustaining an injury; Liz Wagoner of Peterborough, N.H., who is 11-4 at Nos. 5 and 6, including 4-0 since moving into the No. 5 spot; and Kate Saddler of Warren, R.I., who is 5-10 and has played in spots 7 through 9.

Bates has three regular-season matches left before the Howe Cup championships Feb. 15-16 at Yale University. The Bobcats play Dartmouth on Feb. 2 before hosting CBB rivals Colby on Feb. 5 and Bowdoin on Feb. 6.

The entire WISA January poll is available at www.collegesquash.com.

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