Last weekend the squash team headed to Yale University with hopes of making college squash history and coming home national champions. In over 85 years of college squash, no championship match has been fought without at least one Ivy League college in contention.
However, this was not the year for the ‘Jackets to break that trend, as they finished fourth overall in the College Squash Association Team Championships.
The Potter Cup, a tournament of the top eight teams in the country, commenced on Friday afternoon with quarterfinals.
Third-seeded ‘Jackets defeated No. 6 seed Cornell University 7-2. Five Yellowjackets won in three straight sets, and none of the UR victories went to five sets.
‘The match against Cornell had the potential to get messy, and the team did a great job of tying them up to guarantee top four,” head coach Martin Heath said.
On Saturday, the Yellowjackets were pitted against No. 2 seed Yale University, who they had lost to shortly after winter break, 3-6.
‘We were a little better prepared and we had more information on the strength and depth of their line-up,” Heath said.
However, the Bulldogs proved to be too strong for the Yellowjackets, who went down at the wire, 5-4. Sophomore Matthew Domenick won at the No. 6 spot, 3-1, to start things off, but Yale quickly equalized.
After Yale took a 3-1 lead, wins at the second and fifth slots by senior Jim Bristow and junior Will Newnham, respectively, tied things up again.
The Bulldogs nabbed wins at No. 4 and No. 7, though, and sophomore Ben Fischer’s win in the top spot was too little, too late for the Yellowjackets.
‘It was an up and down battle with a couple of disappointing losses, some great wins, and ultimately Yale deserved their passage through to the final,” Heath said.
However, the loss was brightened by a bus full of UR undergrads who showed up at Yale to cheer on the ‘Jackets.
‘The atmosphere at the Yale match was electric, and I’m sure the crowd helped pull [junior]
Will Newnham through his match,” Heath said. ‘It makes a difference, and I’m hoping we can make it an annual outing on the UR student calendar.”
Students’ Association senator and junior Ashley Haluck-Kangas was one of 41 UR students to attend the tournament on a sold-out bus trip.
‘UR presence was very apparent,” she said. ‘The fans brought a raucous excitement while respecting the rules to keep quiet during play. Fans rallied around Will Newnham’s match versus Yale’s John Roberts, and the last match between [sophomore] Ben Fischer and Kenneth Chan.”
Yale went on to face Trinity College, who won the national title for the 12th year in a row.
The following day, the Yellowjackets headed to Hartford, Conn. to face Princeton University in the match that determined third place. UR had defeated Princeton 5-4 in December, but this time there was a different mood in the air.
‘The team was generally flat after getting a good win against Cornell and being denied creating history the day before,” Heath said. ‘I tried to re-focus the team, though after [junior] Hameed Ahmed lost three match balls to lose his match, there just wasn’t the fight that was there the day before.”
Princeton went on to defeat the ‘Jackets 2-7. Despite the general lack of enthusiasm, freshman Andres Duany took the match at No. 4, 3-0, and Newnham completed the weekend undefeated by winning at the fifth spot, 3-0. Additionally, three of UR’s losses went to five sets before the Tigers ultimately came out on top.
‘What impressed me most about the team was that even though they didn’t do as well as they hoped, they were still very gracious and thankful to the fans throughout, even after tough losses,” senior Matt Bell, another student spectator, said. ‘There’s a lot of talent on the team and hopefully we’re right back in the thick of things next year as well.”
While the season is over for the team, some of UR’s players will participate in the CSA Individual National Championship the weekend of March 5-7.
Philbrick is a graduate student.