First-year Head Coach David Kay and a slew of talented upperclassmen are focused on vying for national attention while ushering in a new era of squash at UR.Seniors Allen Fitzsimmons, Pete Avitable and Dave Easwaren all return from a Yellowjacket squad that finished the 2002-03 season ranked 20th in the country.A co-captain and veteran leader, Fitzsimmons will compete at the number one position, as he did last year. He is currently ranked among the top 50 players in the nation in just his fourth year playing the sport.UR will also rely on several freshmen to make an immediate impact. Kelvin Ko, a product of squash-factory Taber Academy, has been impressive in early season workouts and figures to play a major role right away.”Kelvin’s a very talented player. We’re working on his fitness right now, which is a real key for him,” Kay said.Ko’s name can be found on the College Squash Association’s “Freshmen to Watch” list.At the bottom of the ladder, freshman Aaron Kime has picked up the sport quickly after having never swung a squash racket until this season.”He’s a guy who’s come in and worked really hard at this game, spending the extra time to improve,” Kay said.A month into official team practices, Kay has noticed all-around improvement from his players. UR has also responded well to an intense conditioning regimen designed to help the squad make it through the rigorous six-month campaign.”We’ve done a lot of squash-specific stuff that I don’t think they were used to,” Kay said. “The players’ fitness has improved and their strokes have improved already. If we can continue at this pace we’ll be in good shape.”Kay points to a four-weekend stretch from January to February as the most crucial part of the schedule.The team stands at number 21 in the preseason polls and is eager for the chance to ascend further in the rankings. Right in the middle of the pack, UR has its sights set on a higher poll position. “An ambitious goal is to get to the 16-18 spots [in the polls],” Kay said. “That will come when everybody’s working hard and staying healthy, but I think that’s a realistic goal.”The Yellowjackets are the second-best team in upstate New York behind Hobart College, according to Kay. The Statesmen, who defeated UR 9-0 last season, are the 12th-ranked school in the country.In many ways, UR has a chance to control its own destiny, as the Yellowjackets will go head to head with several of the schools they sit so close to in the polls. Tufts University, the U.S. Naval Academy, Franklin and Marshall College, Stanford University, Wesleyan College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and St. Lawrence University are all programs that pose legitimate threats to UR as it attempts to chip away at the national rankings.An NCAA champion and All-American at Princeton University, Kay spent seven years running the squash program at New York’s Union Club before arriving at UR. The Burlington, Ontario native has also enjoyed success on the International Squash Doubles Association tour, where he’s been ranked as high as second in the world. The position is Kay’s first at the collegiate level.The Yellowjackets kick off their season on Nov. 7 when they take on Denison University at the Cleveland Racket Club.Gerton can be reached at email@example.com.
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