UR Men’s Squash defeated the University of Western Ontario soundly in their home opener on Thursday. UR won each of the top seven seeded matches, with Western Ontario taking the final two seeds.
Students attending seemed aware of the match’s importance, or perhaps just that the squash team, currently ranked seventh nationally, competes at a higher level than any other sport on campus. Whatever the reasons, the small bleachers were overflowing before the introductions. The crowd cheered on players with affectionate nicknames between points, and hugs and high-fives during breaks between games.
While four ‘Jackets won their matches in only three games, that doesn’t mean they weren’t challenged. First seed junior Ashley Davies came within two points of losing his match. Davies took the first game convincingly, and the second with more of a struggle. Then he dropped two more games, forcing a tie-breaking fifth.
As Davies began to pick up the pace of his play, his opponent began to make more errors. Finally, with all eyes on the center court, a tight crosscourt drop gave Davies the winning point.
UR fourth seed, first-year Abdelrahman Lasheen also played a match that went to five games. Lasheen demonstrated control and athleticism, forcing his opponent to move around the court in the first three games, though they were tightly contested. Eventually, Lasheen’s opponent began to tire, and points began falling in the ‘Jackets’ favor.
UR third seed sophomore Cesar Segundo took the first game without too much trouble, dominating the front of the court and relying upon his speed and flexibility to recover to the back court when necessary. Aided by his opponent’s proclivity for errors, Segundo took the second game as well before tying the third game at 10 points each.
After a let call (when the referee rules that the point must be replayed) in the third game, Segundo was visibly frustrated. After that he increased the pace of the match and created the opportunity for a match point.
His opponent first hit a skillful drop to the front right corner, forcing Segundo to dive to recover it, then the Western Ontario player hit a crosscourt shot, sending the ball to the back left of the court. Segundo recovered his footing and dove again, stretching out to send the ball back to the front. An error from Western Ontario sent the ball out at the bottom boundary, and the crowd erupted in celebration.
The ‘Jackets followed this victory with another against sixth-place Yale University on Sunday. These two wins bring the team to a 3-3 record, and help build momentum as they prepare for top-seeded Harvard on Sunday.