There’s no such thing as a slow start to a season when the UR men’s squash team comes ready to play. At the Liberty League Championships last weekend, the ‘Jackets kicked off on a high note, easily downing the three title contenders (Hobart and William Smith College 9-0, Vassar College 9-0 and St. Lawrence University 8-1) to claim its third-straight Liberty League title. But while most other UR teams see their seasons end in Liberty League play, the third-ranked squash team in the country has just begun to prepare for its toughest competition in the upcoming months the Potter Cup Division.

‘We want to become the best squash team in the nation,” senior and captain Jim Bristow said. ‘This is realistic, but we are constantly reminded of Trinity’s epic unbeaten record and Princeton’s great new recruits. We just have to believe the work we have done will unfold on the court.”

By the end of January, UR will have played the top-four teams, including No. 4 Yale University, which UR narrowly beat for third last season, and the only two schools (Trinity College and Princeton University) that placed ahead of UR. The matchup against Princeton will be at home on Dec 13.

If UR aims to do higher than third this year, the men will need to answer to formidable opponents: No. 1 Trinity and No. 2 Princeton. Trinity has won 11 consecutive Team Championships and soundly defeated the ‘Jackets, 1-8, in February. Princeton, likewise, defeated UR, 0-9 and 1-8, in two different matchups.

‘I am looking forward to playing Trinity at their home courts,” Bristow said. ‘It is well known amongst squash players that playing at Trinity is not only a physical challenge because of the talented players but a mental challenge due to the intense crowds. The atmosphere will be amazing and it will be great to be involved in another tight match with the top team in the country.”

The Yellowjackets will have at least one resource to rely upon in their most challenging games: a skilled and experienced lineup. Bristow returns for his fourth year on the team, his third as an All-American and captain. Two other players, sophomore Benjamin Fischer and senior and captain Hameed Ahmed, were named Second Team All-Americans. The freshest faces to the team boast strong, prolific records, as well. Freshmen Andres Duany, Juan Pablo Gaviria and Oscar Lopez Hidalgo were top competitors in their respective countries.

‘[Duany] was the top junior in South America last year and comes in as one of the top few recruits in college squash,” Heath said. ‘Juan Pablo Gaviria, the No.1 junior from Columbia, and Oscar Lopez, from Mexico, strengthen the middle of the lineup and make our back order strong enough to compete with the best teams.”

A new squash rule may have the potential to change the nature of the game this year, especially for teams used to a different strategy the new standards allow players to earn points every rally, instead of earning points only on a serve. This has also pushed the points a player requires to win up from nine to 11.

‘The game can run way from you quickly if you don’t concentrate…” Heath said. ‘There are no rests, and it’s an all-out battle to the last point. I think it’s less tactical, less interesting for experienced players, though more exciting to watch for fans.”

Despite the changes, the men return with one consistency their support for one another. Comprised of a uniquely international group representing over 10 countries the men often learn about new and different cultures; several are even picking up some Spanish from the team’s younger players.

‘Not only are we learning about squash or about our specific studies but we are learning about foreign cultures,” Bristow said. ‘The diversity amongst the team brings different styles of play to the team, which is great because we can all try and learn from each other.”

Leber is a member of the class of 2011.



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