UR squash continued their strong start to the season with another dominating performance at the Liberty League Championships two weeks ago. Coming in heavily favored as the top seed, the Yellowjackets had no trouble living up to their billing and showed themselves as the class of the Liberty League. The championship was played over two days with two matches played each day. This was the first time in UR history that the team earned this title.

The ‘Jackets’ first match came against St. Lawrence University and they proved themselves easily superior with an 8-1 victory. Of the 10 individual matches, six were sweeps for UR – No. 1 sophomore Jim Bristow against Dan McElvaine, No. 2 freshman Hameed Ahmed against Alex Dodge, No. 3 freshman Will Newnham against Scott Redpath, No. 8 sophomore Jamal Callender against Thomas Whelan, No. 9 junior Ori Goldman against Pete Montesano and No. 10 senior captain Patrick Harris against Chris Honeywell. No. 5 freshman Edwin Goncharuk, No. 6 freshman Robert McDavid and No. 7 sophomore Alex Lee won their matches 3-2, 3-1 and 3-1, respectively. The ‘Jackets’ only defeat came at the No.4 position, where Nick Pearson swept sophomore Yohay Wakabayashi.

UR followed up with another 8-1 victory later that Saturday against Hamilton College. Again, six of the matches were sweeps with the top four for UR all coming away with victory. The only loss for the ‘Jackets came at No. 5 where Brett Morrell swept McDavid.

Of the three matches that UR did not sweep, all three suffered only one loss apiece, with Lee at No. 6 and Harris at No. 9 both dropping their first games in tough losses – 9-10 and 7-9, respectively. Goncharuk at No. 10 also dropped his first game, but all three players battled back and did not drop another game the entire weekend. At No. 1 and No. 2, Bristow and Ahmed only dropped two points in each of their matches.

On Sunday, the Yellowjackets managed to one-up their already phenomenal performance and did not lose a single game the entire day. The first match against Vassar College was a clinical performance from every player. Each ‘Jacket swept his match with relative ease, with no one losing more than five points in a game and dropping only an average of just over three points per player in each match.

The match against Hobart College was the second match on Sunday and the finale of the weekend for the ‘Jackets, who needed a win to wrap up the championship outright. Against the most stringent competition and on the largest stage of the weekend, the Yellowjackets again performed to near perfection, dismantling Hobart from top to bottom. The ‘Jackets even chose to sit No. 1 Bristow for the match, and the rest of the team had no problem carrying the load and did not miss a beat. Another impressive performance was turned in, each player again sweeping 3-0 and UR winning 9-0, taking home the Liberty League Championship and accompanying hardware.

“The team that [head coach] Martin Heath has built is the strongest I’ve seen in four years,” Harris said of the weekend. “Our success and the high caliber of play displayed this weekend should continue on the rest of the season even as we are soon to face even tougher competition, including some of the top ranked Ivies.”

Bristow took home Liberty League Performer of the Week for the second straight week, and Ahmed took home Liberty League Rookie of the Week to pile on the League accolades for the Yellowjackets.

UR won 30 of the 40 matches played by sweeps, a dominating performance that will certainly draw even more attention to its level of play and hopefully propel them even higher when official team rankings come out in the coming week.

The Yellowjackets travel to Hamilton College for the Hamilton Round Robin Tournament on Saturday.

With expectations high at the beginning of the season and even higher after a first weekend of action earlier in the season, the ‘Jackets have shown that they are ready to not only live up to the already lofty expectations but perhaps even exceed them. It is shaping up to potentially be quite a special season for what is still a young team ready to step into the national spotlight.

Ray is a member of the class of 2008.

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