UR squash rolled through their home stand this weekend, taking all four matches and improving to 13-1 overall. Playing four matches in four days, two of which were against top 15-ranked opponents, UR showed no signs of fatigue, winning all of them without ever really being in danger.
UR started off the marathon with a convincing 9-0 win over Hobart College. At the No. 1 position, freshman Hameed Ahmed was the only player to drop a game, losing the second, 9-10. It was the first time he hadn’t swept his opponent all season since moving into the No.1 spot.
Both sophomore captain Jim Bristow, at No. 2, and freshman Will Newnham, at No. 3, didn’t drop a point, sweeping their matches 3-0 (9-0, 9-0, 9-0).
The ‘Jackets played with a slightly different line-up, putting junior Dan Carson at No. 8 and senior Jamie Lynn at No. 9. Both players responded with convincing wins. Carson notched the victory with a score of 9-7, 9-1, 9-0, while Lynn topped his opponent 9-2, 9-1, 9-0. Junior Alamdar Murtaza also played for the ‘Jackets in the unofficial No. 10 slot but fell in a tough four-game match.
Friday matched the ‘Jackets against their toughest opponent of their home stand in a match against the No. 13 Navy Midshipmen.
The top four for the Yellowjackets cruised past their opponents without dropping a game, a common theme for the season. At No. 1, Ahmed topped Navy sophomore Nils Mattsson, 9-2, 9-6, 9-2. At No. 2, Bristow was barely challenged. He dropped only two points, the first of which provided a sarcastic celebration in the second game from Navy opponent senior Jeff Sawin, who seemed relieved to have won a point. Bristow then swept the third game and cruised to a 9-0, 9-2, 9-0 victory.
At No. 3, Newnham beat Navy freshman Allan Lutz, 9-3, 9-3, 9-6, and, at No. 4, freshman Fred Reid put on perhaps the best performance of the day, dominating Navy junior Michael Beautyman, 9-1, 9-0, 9-0. Sophomore Yohay Wakabayashi, playing at No. 5, also cruised to victory, besting Midshipman junior Christopher Zipf, 9-2, 9-3, 9-2.
Playing at No. 7, sophomore Alex Lee went the distance and outlasted Navy senior Brian Hamilton, gutting out a 9-2 fifth-game victory to win the match. Lee initially won the first two games but allowed Hamilton to take the next two to send the match to the fifth game. At No. 6, No. 8, and No. 9, freshmen Edwin Goncharuk and Robert McDavid and junior Ori Goldman all lost extremely well-fought matches that went the full five games, signaling that a few strokes of luck could have turned the match into an even more impressive victory.
The ‘Jackets’ game on Saturday against the St. Lawrence University Saints was reminiscent of their Thursday victory over Hobart. Never really challenged, UR swept the top seven spots and Goldman won the No. 8 spot in four games. At No. 9, Carson played an epic five-game match against Saint senior Nicholas Callandra. Carson fell behind 0-2 after the first two games, losing both, 7-9, 7-9, but in a show of incredible resilience, he battled back in this marathon of a match to win the next three games, 9-7, 10-9, 9-7. Senior captain Patrick Harris also played, slotting in at the No. 10 spot. He cruised to a 3-0 victory, despite still battling back from injury that has discouraged him all season, and seems poised to quickly return to form within the next couple games.
All that stood between the ‘Jackets and the home stand sweep on Sunday was the 14th-ranked Franklin and Marshall College Diplomats. The win never seemed in doubt throughout the match, however, and UR finished the weekend with a 7-2 victory over the visiting Diplomats. The top four once again led the way, sweeping all of their matches. Wakabayashi, at No. 5, won in four games, and Goncharuk, at No. 6, won in three, coming away with yet another sweep. A fantastic five-game victory at the No. 7 spot was registered by McDavid. Goldman, at No. 8, and Carson, at No. 9, both fell 0-3, and once again, Harris played at No. 10 and quickly produced a 3-0 victory.
As of Feb. 1, UR is still slotted at No. 7 in the country. The ‘Jackets will have to wait to see whether they will move up or down when they travel to Harvard University for Nationals. New individual rankings were released on Feb. 5 – Ahmed moved up one spot to No. 6, while Bristow and Newnham remained at No. 8 and No. 9, respectively. Bristow also collected Liberty League Performer of the Week honors for the third time this season, and Reid was named Liberty League Rookie of the Week.
With only Nationals left to play, the ‘Jackets are happy to have finished with a stellar 13-1 regular season record, their only loss coming in an extremely close match to sixth-ranked Dartmouth College, 5-4. After meeting and perhaps exceeding the high expectations set for them at the beginning of the year during the regular season, the team will look to continue the success of this weekend and the whole year at Nationals on Feb. 15. Likely facing a first-round match against either top-ranked Trinity College or third-ranked Harvard, the ‘Jackets will have their work cut out for them but, so far, have proved to be more than up for the challenge.
Ray is a member of the class of 2008.