As the final week of the college squash season came to a close, No. 24 Stanford squash’s (0-11) best performer finally brought home a win — and a much-needed boost — for the rebuilding program.
Sophomore Si Yi Ma capped a stellar rookie season with a dominant performance at the College Squash Association Individual Championships in Philadelphia on Sunday, winning the Holleran North Division of the Women’s Individual Championships.
With the win, Ma earned Second Team All-American honors, continuing a five-year streak of All-American selections for the Cardinal.
Like the team National Championships, college squash’s Individual Championships are split into divisions based on player rankings. Ma, a top seed in the second-tier Holleran Division, was ranked just outside of the top 16 players that competed in the Ramsay Cup for the Individual National Championship and First Team All-American status — but she won her division to confirm a place among the top 20 women’s players in college squash.
Ma was dominant for most of the weekend against a draw of players from several top teams ranked above Stanford. The sophomore dropped only six points in a rout over Denison’s Antoinette Ramsey in the opening round, but was challenged in the quarterfinals by Drexel player and fellow Malaysian Dina Rosli.
Against Rosli, Ma fell behind early but stormed back to overcome a 1-2 deficit in games. In the deciding fifth game, Ma saved a match ball, forced a tiebreak and completed the comeback with a stunning, outstretched backhand volley into the front court.
Ma didn’t drop a game for the rest of the tournament, beating both Virginia’s Olivia Walsh in the semifinals and Yale’s Christy Lau in the final by 3-0 scores to win her division.
Fellow sophomore Lucia Bicknell also competed in the Individual Championships in the Holleran East division, but drew a tough opening assignment against Princeton’s Molly Chadwick and lost 3-1.
Ma, playing in her first season at Stanford after the CSA canceled the 2020-2021 college squash season due to the pandemic, concluded her rookie campaign with a team-best 14-1 record in team and individual play. Ma notched Stanford’s only wins against Dartmouth, Drexel and eventual national champions Harvard.
Performances like those have earned Ma praise from her coach and teammates. Head coach Mark Talbott described Stanford’s top three players, sophomores Ma and Cassie Ong and senior Elena Wagenmans, as the strongest trio the team has ever fielded. Wagenmans praised Ma’s racket skills, even amongst a team of talented attackers.
“She has the smoothest touch on the team,” Wagenmans, recipient of Stanford’s last two All-American honors in 2019 and 2020, said of Ma. “It’s super fun to watch her play.”
Ma’s weekend bodes well for a Stanford team looking to bounce back from a winless season. As the Cardinal rebuild a roster that missed a recruiting class and was beset by injuries this season, they may already have the returning talent to lead the team back to the top of college squash.