Rookie Takes Over Top Spot in Women’s Squash

Julie Cerullo ’13 was a staple in the women’s squash lineup, playing almost every match of her Princeton career at the No. 1 position and earning All-America honors four years in row. When Cerullo graduated in June, she left a huge hole for the No. 1 incoming freshman in the country to fill.

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Maria Elena Ubina ’17 (Photo: Courtesy Office of Athletic Communications)

Rookie Maria Elena Ubina started her first collegiate squash season as the top-ranked player at the under-19 level and boasts an impressive resume. A four-time member of the U.S. World Junior team, Ubina won the 2011 U.S. Junior Open Squash Championship in the under-19 category when she was just 16 years old.

Ubina, however, says that playing on the collegiate level is different than competing on the junior circuit.

“Playing for [head coach] Gail [Ramsay] and playing with the team was a different experience because college squash is so different from junior squash,” Ubina said. “Junior squash is very different because you’re playing for yourself. This is more team-oriented. Even playing for your country, it’s a little more individual. The kids are younger and they’re a little more self-centered, but here everyone is rooting for the University instead of for themselves.”

Ubina has had an interesting start to her season thus far. After easily sweeping her opponents in the season’s first two matches, she was forced to sit out Princeton’s match against Drexel due to an ankle injury. She returned to the court on Saturday at “pretty much” 100 percent to take on George Washington’s Gaby Parras in a high-scoring match that went to five games.

It was an important test for Ubina, who will face off against reigning national champion Amanda Sobhy when Princeton plays Harvard after its return from winter break in January. The match will prove to be an interesting parallel between Ubina and Cerullo, given Princeton’s recent rivalry with the Crimson on the court.

In last year’s competition, Princeton was tied 3-3 for the match when Cerullo and Sobhy began play. Cerullo wasn’t able to get the victory at the top of the flight, dropping three straight games to Sobhy and making the remainder of the match far more difficult for the Tigers. Though Princeton won in an incredibly tight 5-4 result, capturing the No. 1 match will be crucial to the Tigers’ success. Ubina has already played Sobhy this year at Ivy League Scrimmages in November, where the junior downed the freshman in just three. Ubina, however, pointed out to the work ethic that made her choose Princeton in the first place as a motivating factor in improving.

“The squash team here is really great,” Ubina said. “They get where they are because of all of their hard work.

Quick Takes

Men’s basketball cruised to its fifth straight win, beating Farleigh Dickinson 77-55. With a record of 6-1, the Tigers are still going on their best start to their season since 1997-1998. Princeton faces off against local rival Rutgers on Wednesday in what will be their 120th matchup.

Men’ swimming and diving posted an impressive result this weekend at the Big AI Open Championship, with several swimmers breaking records. Sophomore Teo D’Alessandro broke the Princeton record in both the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys, and junior Michael Strand set the fastest school time for the 100-yard backstroke in 46.68 seconds. Senior Lisa Boyce of women’s swimming and diving finished first in both the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly, with three other Princeton swimmers finishing in the top five of that event.

Football junior quarterback Quinn Epperly was awarded the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year on Monday. This is the second year in a row that a Tiger has won one of the Ivy League’s top two honors. Mike Catapano ’13 won the Defensive Player of the Year last season. Defensive end Caraun Reid ’14 was a finalist for this year’s defensive award, which went to Harvard defensive end Zach Hodges.

One thought on “Rookie Takes Over Top Spot in Women’s Squash

  1. Maureen Coffey

    Didn’t know squash could also be a university sport in the S, not just football, basket or base ball. I think Europe could do with a bit of that too. It seems to make students identify more with their respective colleges or universities than anything seen in Europe with the exception maybe of England’s Cambridge and Oxford rowing teams.