UR has only one Division I team: squash. Currently ranked second in the nation, UR Men’s Squash has started the season 13–2.
On top of that, sophomore Ashley Davies at No. 1 and senior Rodrigo Porras at No. 8 both went 15–0. The team will soon be competing in nationals on the weekend of February 15–17.
Despite its Division I status, some say that UR does little to promote the team. One notable instance is the UR Athletics Instagram page. “There was a post about senior day for basketball but there was nothing for squash,” Davies said.
Head Coach Martin Heath believes that “this small, obscure sport is actually very cool, fun, filled with interesting people from all backgrounds, great athletes, work very hard, and ultimately one of the most successful teams on campus.”
There is only one American on the team, senior Leonard Mohr. There are student athletes on the team hailing from Mexico, India, the Netherlands, and many other nations.
Davies, who plays in the No. 1 spot on the team, said that the cultural diversity on the team has allowed people to learn and grow. Coach Heath believes this encourages people to have “respect for each other’s differences.”
While UR men’s squash is one of the top programs in the country, that is not matched by other schools in the UAA. The squash team is part of Division I and thus competes against other Division I schools, including Ivy League universities.
The Ivy League universities have dominated the sport of squash, with six out of the top 10 ranked teams from the league. As a result, Coach Heath believes the team has “a little bit of underdog mentality”.
The team now moves looks to nationals, which will be held at Yale University. Echoing Davies, Coach Martin, says that the team must “believe they can be the best team when it matters.”
“It’s all about belief,” Davies said. “Everyone can win their matches.”
At nationals this past weekend, the team competed for the Potter Cup, which holds the eight top-ranked teams in the nation. The ‘Jackets were ranked at their highest position in school history as the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
The first matchup was Princeton University, ranked 7th in the nation. Though the match started competitively, the ‘Jackets were triumphant in the end, winning 7–2 in the first round. On the same side of the bracket, Trinity College faced Columbia University, which resulted in a commanding win for Trinity, setting up a rematch of one of the biggest wins of the season for the ‘Jackets.
As expected, the semi-final match was exciting. The teams went back and forth, with Trinity leading 2–1 after the first wave. The ‘Jackets responded with two wins in the second wave, increasing the pressure for the end.
Davies then defeated Trinity’s No. 1 Kush Kumar in a thrilling battle of two of the best players in squash, to bring the score to 4–4. The final match was the No. 4 match between UR senior Lawrence Kuhn and Trinity’s Ziad Sakr. Sadly, despite the great showing, Kuhn lost at the end, solidifying the end of the squash team’s run.
A bright side of the tournament, however, is that UR senior Ricardo Lopez was presented the College Squash Association Skillman Award for showing exceeding sportsmanship over his career in college athletics. The squash team really demonstrated that they can win at a high level and will continue to prove this next season.