Despite suffering its first loss of the season, Yellowjacket squash still put on a strong showing two weekends ago and moved to No.7 in the national ranking. In the first round of polls, the Yellowjackets ranked No. 14 in the country, and their opponents for the weekend, Bates College, Bowdoin College and Dartmouth College, ranked No.13, No.12 and No. 7, respectively. Despite playing without senior captain Patrick Harris, the ‘Jackets showed they not only are able to live up to their high national ranking, but also are perhaps better than it shows, beating two higher-ranked teams and narrowly losing to a third.

The first match of the weekend on Saturday night against Bates proved to be a challenge for the ‘Jackets but one they were up for, as they took the match 5-4.

The top four players for UR, freshman Hameed Ahmed, sophomore Jim Bristow, freshman Will Newnham and freshman Frederick Reid, all cruised through their matches, winning 3-0, each handling their opponents fairly easily. Bristow did not drop a point against Sean Wilkinson. Sophomore Alex Lee, playing at No. 8, delivered the fifth point for the ‘Jackets, earning the victory over the higher-ranked Bates. Freshman Robert McDavid, at No. 7, and junior Ori Goldman, at No. 9, both lost their matches in five sets, nearly pulling out an even greater victory for the ‘Jackets.

Sunday morning, the Yellowjackets faced their toughest opponent of the season in seventh-ranked Dartmouth.

Again, the top four for the ‘Jackets all cruised to 3-0 victories, Bristow dropping only three points to Ted Newhouse and Reid, at No. 4, dropping only two to Mike Lewis.

Unfortunately, that’s where the winning ended. Sophomore Yohay Wakabayashi, at No. 5, lost a tough five-game match against Michael Shrubb, the final game going the distance at 8-10 in favor of Dartmouth.

The final match of the weekend came against 12th-ranked Bowdoin, with the ‘Jackets hoping to bounce back from their tough loss earlier that day against Dartmouth. The team proved to be more than up for the challenge, taking a 6-3 victory.

For the third time in three matches, Rochester’s top four swept their matches 3-0, with Bristow, at No. 2, only losing one point and Reid, at No. 4, losing only two. McDavid defeated Robert Lynn, 3-0, for the fifth point, and Lee defeated Thai Ha-Ngoc in four games for the ‘Jackets’ sixth point. The top four finished the weekend dropping only an average of just over 2.5 points per match.

The weekend on the whole was an extremely successful one for the ‘Jackets, defeating two higher-ranked opponents and losing a very close match against seventh-ranked Dartmouth. The Yellowjackets proved they are once again up to meet the lofty expectations they had coming into this season and should only improve upon their ranking with their showing against these three elite teams.

The coming weeks will be busy for the team with matches today away at Hamilton, followed by four home matches in four days starting Thursday, Jan. 31, against Hobart College, then Friday, against 10th-ranked Navy, Saturday, against St. Lawrence University, and finishing Sunday morning, against Franklin University and Marshall University.

Again, all four matches are at home, and the team hopes for a large turnout of support in what will be a long and hopefully successful weekend.

Early in December, five members of the team traveled to the Five-Man U.S. Team Championships in Connecticut. The best collegiate teams, as well as the best coaches and graduates, in the United States were featured in the tournament.

Rochester’s team consisted of Ahmed, Bristow, Newnham, freshman Edwin Goncharuk and sophomore Jamal Callender.

Ahmed, who is undefeated this season, won all four of his matches, three of them by 3-0 counts. Bristow, at No. 2, went 2-2, with both his victories 3-0 sweeps.

At No. 3, Newnham went 3-1 also with two sweeps. Goncharuk and Callender both went 0-4 on the weekend, but the team as a whole produced a very impressive 2-2 record considering the level of competition.

For their efforts, Ahmed was named Liberty League Co-Performer of the Week and Newnham was named Liberty League Rookie of the Week.

Ray is a member of the class of 2008.



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