Men’s squash finishes seventh in nation

The Williams men’s squash team had a successful weekend at the national tournament at Harvard University, finishing seventh in the nation. After coming into the tournament seeded eighth and failing to pull off a miracle victory against the national title-bound Trinity Bantams on Friday, the team lost to a talented Western Ontario team the following day. The match for seventh place was an intense Williams-Amherst grudge match, with the Ephs finally prevailing in a tight 5-4 decision. Despite the enormity of the task in front of them, the Ephs played quite well in their first round match against Trinity. The Bantams had lost only two individual matches all year and their talent showed through in another 9-0 victory over Williams. Zafrir Levy ’00, played a beautiful match at the number one position, taking two-time defending intercollegiate champion Marcus Cowie to five games. Levy mixed excellent shot-making with patient drives and cross-courts to push the Trinity number one to the edge before falling 12-15 in the fifth game.

After Friday’s loss, the team faced a rather mysterious consolation draw opponent in Western Ontario. Western plays only a few American schools each season but always has considerable success at the national tournament. This year was no exception as the Canadian squad was very deep, with a strong, consistent lineup. The Ephs were only able to win at the number one and two spots, as Levy and Win Tangjaitrong ’02 made quick work of their opponents. Chris Delaney ’01 and Tony McCutcheon ’99 played tough five-game matches, each losing in the end. Captain Adrian Marshall commented on the loss, saying, “Although we were hoping to pull this match out and sneak into the top five, we realize that Western Ontario is a very talented team. Our guys actually played quite well and we were defeated by a better team on the day.” The highlight of the day for many of the spectators came when Rob Howell ’00, after years of hard work, finally managed to break a glass-backed court, showering the onlookers with shards of glass. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident, which Howell insists was due to faulty workmanship.

The final match of the tournament for the Ephs was a rematch with rival Amherst, as the two squads battled it out for seventh place. With a scheduled 3:30 start delayed more than two hours, the match was the last of the weekend, but a strong contingent of fans stayed to cheer on both teams. Just as in their first meeting, the Ephs controlled the numbers six, seven, eight and nine spots, winning four of their five matches from these lower positions. Chris Delaney pulled his match out in a hard-fought five-game contest at number six, while Rob Howell took firm control of his match at number seven, winning convincingly over a resilient opponent. The Ephs still needed to find a victory in the top five to win the match, a feat they were unable to accomplish in their earlier meeting with the Lord Jeffs at Williams several weeks before. First-year Tangjaitrong played brilliant squash in winning the first two games of his number two match but was ultimately unable to hold on, falling to a very talented and experienced Amherst player.

Captain Marshall also fell in an extremely competitive contest at number four, finally losing in five games. With number one Levy facing a difficult match against the number two ranked intercollegiate player and having already lost at the number five position, the match rested on the shoulders of Barrett Eynon ’99 at the number three spot. Eynon did not disappoint, jumping out to a two game lead over an excellent opponent. Unable to convert two match-points in the third game, Eynon dropped the fourth game 2-15 and looked to be fading. Despite this swing in momentum, however, he managed to save his best game for last of his intercollegiate career, combining deep drives and cross-courts with aggressive volleys and well-timed boasts to seize control of the match. With a 15-7 win in the fifth game, Eynon had secured victory for the Ephs, their first victory over Amherst since 1995. Coach Dave Johnson commented on the match, saying, “This was a great win for our team, particularly for our seniors, who had never beaten Amherst. I was extremely pleased with everyone’s effort and the victory was a nice ending to the season.”

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