Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College Bantams are ranked No. 2 in the College Squash Association (CSA) Women's National Poll entering their season opener at Mount Holyoke College on Saturday, November 23 at noon. The Bantams, coached by Wendy Bartlett (36th Season) finished last winter with a 17-3 overall record, won their 13th consecutive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship title, and finished as the CSA National Championship (Howe Cup) Runner-Up for the second season in a row. Trinity will challenge for a national title once again this winter, with leadership provided by senior tri-captains Salma Alam El Din (Cairo, Egypt), Vanessa Raj (Penang, Malaysia), and Lakeesha Rarere (Hastings, New Zealand).
Raj is a two-time All-American with a 46-7 career record, while Rarere is 37-14 all-time but has enjoyed an outstanding pre-season and played her way into the middle third of the lineup. Alam El Din is out with an injury as the season begins, but will be a vital factor in the team's success on or off the court. Sophomore Sarahi Loez (Zapopan, Mexico) returns for her second campaign at the top of the ladder, after collecting All-American honors and posting a 15-5 mark as a rookie last winter. Junior Min Jie Teh (Klang, Malaysia) has been nearly flawless in her Bantam career with a 35-6 record, while classmate Akanksha Salunkhe (Vasco de Gama, India) has been just as impressive with a 34-6 career mark. Both juniors were All-Americans in 2018-19 and should round out the top three with Lopez as the season starts.
Three other sophomores should round out the top nine on opening day, as Nadia Usenko (Kiev, Ukraine), Ashita Bhengra (Chennai, India), and Amina Taher (Alexandria, Egypt) have each developed steadily in year two. Usenko has picked up where she left off after a 20-win rookie season. Bhengra missed much of last year with an injury, but is fully healthy and looks quick on the court in pre-season. Taher was solid as a first-year with 13 wins in 16 matches, and her game shows considerable improvement. Junior Campbell Brown (Wellesley Hills, Mass.) also has quality experience on the Trinity roster.
Five first-year prospects are pushing for spots in the lineup. Nanna Carleke (Karlskrona, Sweden), Zeinab Bakayoko (New York, N.Y.), Habiba Dawoo (Cairo, Egypt), Lily Taylor-French (Fano, Italy), and Joyce Chan (San Diego, Calif.) represent an outstanding class that will certainly make its mark on the college squash landscape beginning with their initial season in 2019-20.