Anjali Ponni Rajkumar ’02 was one of only three women’s squash players in the 41-year history of the program to be named a four-time All-American. Her career ended with a stellar 58-25 record, good for the third-most wins of all time. Rajkumar concluded her time at Franklin & Marshall College by garnering the department’s highest honor: being named a co-recipient of the 2002 Michael Karvasales ’35 Women’s Senior Athlete of the Year award.
“She was a squash junkie and incredibly dedicated to the sport,” said former head coach Ron Epps. “Anjali worked hard, put in the time and was a leader for all four years both on and off the court.”
A native of Tamil Nuda, India, Rajkumar began her career with the first of four double-digit win seasons, accumulating a 13-9 overall record in 1998–99 and a Second Team All-America nod to cap off her freshman campaign.
Rajkumar was entrenched as the leader of the 1999–00 squad after locking down the No. 1 position at the top of the lineup with an 11-5 mark. Late in the 2000 season, she fell prey to a knee injury and was unable to compete in the Women’s Intercollegiate Squash Racquets Association (USWISRA) Singles Championship, but still ended her sophomore season with a place on the Second Team All-America list.
The owner of a 14-6 record in 2000–01, Rajkumar advanced to the round of 16 at the Women’s Intercollegiate Squash Association (WISA) Championships at Harvard University after winning the opening two rounds of the main draw, but fell in back-to-back matches to Harvard’s Mary Elias (15-6, 15-1, 15-0) and Dana Betts of Bowdoin (15-4, 15-1, 15-0), both First Team All-Americans. She finished the 2001 season ranked 15th in the nation, the highest national ranking for an F&M player since F&M Athletic Hall of Fame member Margo Green ’95. Rajkumar’s finest season garnered her a third consecutive Second Team All-America honor.
As a senior, Rajkumar produced the sixth-most wins in F&M single season history with a 20-5 mark, and went 2-2 to advance to the final field of 12 at the 2002 WISA Singles Championships at Princeton University on March 1–3.
In the first round, she suffered a defeat to Harvard’s Lindsey Wilkens by a 9-1, 9-1, 9-4 score. Rajkumar dropped to the first flight of the consolations, where she responded with a 9-4, 9-5, 9-2 win. In the next round, she swept past Devon Dazell of Yale 9-6, 9-4, 9-4 to make it to the final field of 12 and a guaranteed spot on the All-America First Team. Her dream of a national championship came up short in the next round, in which she fell to Carlin Wang of Harvard by a 9-2, 9-5, 9-3 tally.
“Anjali helped elevate the play of her teammates by the way she competed and in the way she trained, both in the hours she spent perfecting her game and in her level of fitness,” said Epps. “Beyond the court, she was an involved student on campus and was an active member with multiple organizations.”
When asked which memories and moments she will remember most as a student-athlete at F&M, Rajkumar points to the dedication and support of her squash coaches, who provided her with a second family during her time in Lancaster and included her in their Thanksgiving dinners and Easter church visits.
“I always made excuses to stop by Coach Patty Epps’ office almost every day around 11 a.m., just so I could chat,” she said. “We would start off with squash-related topics and talk about everything under the sun. And I’ll remember hearing Mr. Epps laugh before actually seeing him—the only time sound traveled faster than light.”
Life in College centered on the sport she loved, so much so that Rajkumar recalls the “post squash-season blues” she endured when her training and competition ended for the year. Even when away from campus on break, her first order of business upon return
was making her way directly to her favorite destination.
“Whenever I came back from vacation, I would head straight to the squash courts,” she said. “I would walk from the train station back to the College and loved the view of the campus from the bridge over the train tracks. For me, this will always be a second home.”
Rajkumar graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 2002 with a degree in Business and Art before earning a Master’s Degree in Biotechnology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007. She resides in Chennai Area, India, serving as a partner at Canon Image Square and a director at Photo Emporium while continuing to pursue her career as