At the beginning of this season, the men’s squash team had two goals: avenge last years defeat at the hands of Dartmouth, and qualify for the top division at the National Intercollegiate Squash Racquets Association national team tournament at Princeton. With a 5-4 victory over the Big Green, Williams assured themselves a spot in the top tier at this weekend’s national tournament where they finished seventh.
The Ephs opened play on Friday against the regular season champion, the Trinity Banthams. All 10 of the Williams players put out a strong effort, but the Ephs were unable to steal a match from theBanthams.
The loss dropped the men’s team into the loser’s side of the draw where they faced the University of Western Ontario. As the first wave got underway, Williams saw their window of opportunity growing. Michael Bourke ‘00, playing at the number two position, turned in one of his best performances of the season scoring a great win. Adrian Marshall ‘99 added a victory to the Williams tally, winning the number four match. The Ephs were unable to score victories in the number six, or eight match, tying the team score.
The second wave started well as co-captain David Rubin ‘98 took the first two games at the number nine position, and Barrett Eynon ‘99 as well as co-captain Whitten Morris ‘98 also started out strong.
As the matches began to end, Williams found themselves down 4-3 as Eynon added the third victory. Rubin’s match was now in the fifth game, and Morris was down 2-1. Things did not look good for the Ephs as Rubin’s fifth game started, because he was losing. Down 13-6, Rubin started to make his move, and was able to equalize the game at 13. Unfortunately, he dropped four out of the next five points, and Western took the team match, 6-3 as Morris was unable to edge his opponent.
The loss placed Williams in a playoff with Denison for seventh place. The Ephs showed the strength of their line-up as they recorded a 6-3 victory over Denison. It is difficult to single out one player that turned in an outstanding performance as the Ephs won the match as a team. However, the Ephs received especially wonderful matches from Sam French ‘98, playing in his last match, from Marshall, from freshman Chris Delaney, winning a brutal five-game match, and from Morris, who was very close to earning a victory over one of the best players in intercollegiate squash.
With its victory over Denison, the Ephs had finished the team portion of the tournament. Williams returned to Jadwin gymnasium to contest the doubles finals. As they arrived at the courts, Harvard had just secured the team championship with a 5-4 victory over Trinity. While this result interested the Ephs, they were focused on the upcoming doubles match. Morris has finished second for the past three years in the doubles, but the Ephs looked very strong this year.
The Williams team of Bourke and Morris were arguably the two best hardball players in the nation, and thus the Ephs had a great shot against the Trinity team of Joe Pentland and Preston Quick. Williams started out strong, winning the first game 15-12 and were up 8-2 when disaster struck. Bourke moved forward to retrieve a ball in the front right corner and planted his foot in an awkward position. Bourke’s momentum carried him forward, causing a severe ankle injury. Unfortunately, the injury caused the Williams team to forfeit the championship. It appears that the doubles title just did not fit in Morris’ hands.
Despite the freak accident in the doubles finals, Williams had a wonderful weekend. Coach David Johnson was very pleased with the effort his team put in. “The Western match turned out to be just a bit beyond our reach, but we had a wonderful win over Denison. It was a great way to end our season.” Williams returns six of their top nine players next year, and, while the seniors will be missed, the Ephs look to improve on their seventh place finish.