UR squash opened its 2007 season with a perfect start against Colgate University on Saturday, winning 9-0. It followed later that same day with another impressive win over University of Southern California, 7-2. Despite playing without its top three players – sophomore Jim Bristow, freshman Will Newnham and freshman Hameed Ahmed who were away at an invitational – and head coach Martin Heath, the team showed its tremendous depth and started the season in great form. Expectations are high this year after finishing last year ranked 16th in the nation and the addition of a strong freshman class. The ‘Jackets showed that they are up to the challenge.

The first match against Colgate could not have played out better for the Yellowjackets, with a win that never seemed to be in doubt. UR did not drop a single game to Colgate, as each member of the team swept his match, 3-0, and handed Colgate a 9-0 loss. The top three playing for Rochester looked strong, starting with sophomore Yohay Wakabayashi at No. 1. He cruised to a 9-1, 9-1, 9-0 victory over Matt McCormick, followed by freshman Rob McDavid at No. 2 handling Colgate’s Johnny Russel, 9-0, 9-5, 9-0, and No. 3 freshman Edwin Goncharuk did not drop a point on his way to three 9-0 victories against Jamie Beddou.

The rest of the team played with similar results. Sophomore Alex Lee at No. 4 cruised effortlessly, 9-1, 9-0, 9-2, past Hasan Kazi, sophomore Jamal Callender at No. 5 defeated Colgate’s Zach Ali, 9-0, 9-2, 9-3, and senior captain Patrick Harris waltzed through his match against Alex Plunkett, 9-0, 9-2, 9-0, at No. 6. In the No. 7 match that pitted junior Ori Goldman against Todd Goldman, UR’s Goldman easily won the battle of surnames, 9-1, 9-0, 9-0. Junior Dan Carson rolled past Bob Biggar, 9-0, 9-0, 9-4, at No. 8, and senior Jamie Lynn at No. 9 easily dispatched with Nick Hjelm, 9-0, 9-1, 9-1.

After their perfect start, the ‘Jackets went into their match with USC full of confidence. With the match starting at 7:30 p.m., there was a sizable crowd filling the bleachers, and the team rewarded the fans with a stellar performance. Harris set the tone in the opening matches with a convincing 9-0, 9-0, 9-0 drudging of Andrew Cook in a match that lasted no more than 15 minutes at the No. 6 position. At No. 3, Goncharuk dispatched Tyler Kurlas, 9-3, 6-9, 10-9, 9-0, finishing off the match strong after being challenged in game two and three. Lee’s No. 4 match went the distance with Lee prevailing in five games over Harsh Podar 8-10, 9-6, 9-7, 4-9, 9-5. Lee stayed focused after dropping the first game and came back to win well-fought games two and three. After dropping game four, he regained his footing and outlasted Podar in game five.

Callender, playing No. 5, topped Jon Joshi with relative ease, 9-2, 9-4, 9-2. Goldman earned his second victory of the day against Oliver Embry at No. 7.

After winning a long back-and-forth first game 10-8, he quickly finished off Embry in Game two and Game three, 9-0, 9-0. Carson saw off Mike Tien in a four-game match, 9-6, 6-9, 9-0, 9-2, and Lynn at No. 9 managed to easily overcome a first-game 6-9 loss against Deransh Mittal with 9-4, 9-2, 9-0 wins in Games 2-4.

UR’s only two losses on the day came from the top two positions with Wakabayashi dropping to J.P. Rothie, 2-9, 3-9, 8-10, and McDavid bowing out against Charles Braff, 3-9, 3-9, 3-9.

The Yellowjackets’ top three players were away in Richmond, Va. for the 36th Price Bullington Invitational this past weekend. Held each year, the Invitational brings 15 of the best collegiate squash players in from all over the country, along with the winner of a qualifying draw for a total of 16 participants. Bristow, Newnham and Ahmed were all invited to compete in the prestigious tournament. Bristow played extremely well, falling just short in the finals and earning second place honors. Newnham and Ahmed also offered excellent performances finishing fifth and seventh, respectively. Playing against such a strong field, the performances turned in by UR’s top three were fantastic and bode well for the rest of the season, not only for their individual honors, but for the team as well when they return to the lineup.

The Yellowjackets were favored in both of its home matches, and it is clear why after Saturday. The team will only improve with the return of their top three players, but showed that its roster is extremely deep and can thrive in any situation. Saturday’s matches served bolster hopes of a top 10 finish for the team this year, and it should prove to be an exciting season for one of UR’s top sports teams.

Ray is a member of the class of 2008.



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