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Sara Del Balzo ’14 was a competitive racquetball player in Oregon when squash coach Wendy Berry contacted her about joining the squash team at Wellesley. That prompted her to consider joining a college squash team, even though she had never played the sport before. 

“On the east coast there really aren’t racquetball teams, but I liked playing racquetball so I decided to try squash,” she said.

Del Balzo has had an impressive four years on the squash team, playing second for the Blue during most of her time here. Earlier this month, she helped the team win its first Seven Sisters title in 12 years, which had been a team goal for four seasons. Her next objective: staying healthy to finish out the last two weeks of her senior season.

After returning from this weekend’s Division III individual tournament, where she picked up a win in the B flight of competition, Del Balzo sat down with me to tell me about her time on the squash team. Excerpts of our conversation follow.

Emily Bary (E.B.): How was the switch to squash?

Sara Del Balzo (S.D.B.): The transition was definitely easier having come from racquetball because I just had basic racquet skills. It was difficult in some respects because there’s a different strategy to the game, but overall it definitely wasn’t as hard for me to pick up squash as it might’ve been for someone who had never played a racquet sport before.

E.B.: Have you moved up in the lineup during your time on the team?

S.D.B.: I’ve pretty much stayed at number two. It’s varied depending on who’s injured. When I joined the team the number one player was hurt so I played number two instead of number three. I’m definitely doing better now because I’ve improved as a player. When I joined the team at number two I wouldn’t really hold my own very well against a lot of teams. It definitely has been nice because now give a better game than I used to, even though I do get beat a lot since being number two is rough.

E.B.: What was it like winning Seven Sisters?

S.D.B.: It was very cool. Unfortunately I lost my match so it was a little bit hard for me but it was something we wanted to do and as a senior, it’s always nice to go out with a bang.

E.B.: What’s been your best Wellesley athletic moment?

S.D.B.: Probably beating Connecticut College 5-4 last year at Howe Cup. That was pretty exciting. Even beating them the year before 7-2 was pretty exciting because we finished the highest ranked that we had ever been. Both were very intense matches and I won in both of those matches. Colby this year was really great too but I lost. Beating Colby would definitely be up there because it was the first time we had beaten Colby in years.

E.B.: What’s a typical practice like for you?

S.D.B.: We wake up at 5:30 a.m. and we’ll usually warm up, do a drill for about a half hour and then after various drills we’ll start playing games. The coach will put limitations on you, saying you can only hit in certain areas of the court and that’s usually how we finish up practice.

E.B.: What was it like playing in the individual tournament?

S.D.B.: It was definitely fun. It was exhausting but kind of cool playing people from other teams who I wouldn’t necessarily get to play because as number two, I only will play other number two players. So it was nice seeing how I rank against these other teams because when I play Bowdoin, normally I get killed by their number two so it was good playing someone lower in the ladder on Bowdoin and seeing how I rank and where I’d fit in on their ladder. And it reminded me of when I played racquetball tournaments because it was a very similar set-up.

Del Balzo and Blue squash have their next match on Saturday, Feb. 15 against Northeastern. The match will be at the Dana Hall School at 2 p.m.

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