This past weekend, the UR squash team traveled to Boston for the Men’s College Squash Association National Team Championships. The weekend started out with controversy in the seeding for the tournament.

The tournament is divided into six divisions, each of which is made up of eight seeds. At the top is the Potter Division, followed by the Hoehn Division. The seeding committee could not come to a consensus on which team should be the eighth seed – UR or Williams College – and, in a shocking and unprecedented decision, the committee decided to have the two teams compete in a play-in match the first morning of Nationals competition in order to determine the eighth seed.

In the seeding match, the top four for the ‘Jackets once again swept their opponents. Freshmen Hameed Ahmed at No. 1 and Will Newnham at No. 3 both won, 3-1, while sophomore Jim Bristow at No. 2 and freshman Fred Reid at No. 4 both swept their opponents, 3-0.

However, seeds five through nine were unable to secure victories after both sophomore Yohay Wakabayashi at No. 5 and freshman Edwin Goncharuk at No. 6 lost excruciating five-game matches. The ‘Jackets led in three of the five matches they ended up dropping. In Wakabayashi’s match, he was up, 2-0, in games and led, 6-3, in the fourth game, but he was unable to pull out the essential third victory. Goncharuk fought back from being down, 0-2, to even at 2-2 but was also unable to edge his opponent in the fifth game.

After the inauspicious start to the weekend, the ‘Jackets then fell into the Hoehn Cup Division as the No. 9 seed overall and the top seed in the bracket.

UR showed no signs of letting its earlier disappointment over the seeding controversy affect its performance, rolling over its first opponent, Amherst College, 9-0. Bristow and Reid both dropped only a point each in their 3-0 victories, and Ahmed only dropped two in his. Wakabayashi and freshman Robert McDavid at No. 8 also swept their matches, while Goncharuk and junior Ori Goldman at No. 9 took their matches in four games. Sophomore Alex Lee, at No. 7, also came away with a victory.

In the semifinal round, the Yellowjackets matched up with Navy for the second time this season. The first time they met, UR came away with a 6-3 win. This match proved to be no different, with the ‘Jackets winning, 7-2.

The top five all took home wins, with Wakabayashi picking up a five-game victory. Lee and McDavid also tallied victories in four and three games, respectively. Goncharuk lost in four games while Goldman was outlasted in a long five-game match.

The win over Navy sent the ‘Jackets to the finals to meet Bates College, a team they had also defeated during the regular season. Unfortunately, UR could not duplicate that success this time and fell, 6-3, clearly fatigued from playing in its fourth match in three days.

Bates, in contrast, was playing only its third match in the same amount of time. For the first time all year, Ahmed lost a match. The defeat came in three games and put him at 17-1 for the season. Seeds five through nine also lost for the ‘Jackets. Bristow, Newnham and Reid all pulled out three-game victories.

Despite a seemingly disappointing end to the season for the ‘Jackets, expectations were extremely high and the season itself was still wildly successful, with next year again holding even more promise. The Yellowjackets are still in line for what should be a final ranking at No. 10, up six slots from the start of the season.

“It is amazing how far this team has come since coach Heath arrived on campus, from the constant improvement of every player to the comraderie of the most diverse team at Rochester [seven players hail from outside the United States],” senior Jamie Lynn said. “This season’s top-10 finish will no doubt be the platform to building a championship caliber team next season.”

The team graduates only three seniors and returns its entire lineup from Nationals. Indeed, the team once again has strong ground to build upon and expectations will again be high for next year.

“Ultimately we achieved the seasons goal to break into the top ten with a relatively young team,” senior captain Pat Harris said. “Receiving the Barnaby Trophy [for Most Improved Team] for the second year in a row shows our hard work and the Collegiate Squash Association’s recognition for our improvement.”

While team play has come to a close for the ‘Jackets, there are still the Collegiate Squash Association Individual Nationals at the Naval Academy on Feb. 29. UR’s season included many accomplishments, including a Liberty League Championship and a 17-3 record overall.

Ray is a member ofthe class of 2008.



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