The Williams men’s squash team went 4-2 in the past two weeks, falling to the top two teams in the country and then defeating Brown, Wesleyan, Amherst, and Denison. Facing the top three teams in intercollegiate squash in the same week, the team played well in the toughest part of its schedule. Losing to Princeton on Jan. 23, the Ephs played host to Harvard the following Thursday and then traveled to Hartford to face the defending national champion Trinity Bantams on Saturday.
Last Saturday, the squad went to Amherst and came away with the Little Three title for the first time in five years, defeating Wesleyan 9-0 and Amherst 8-1. The Wesleyan match was a one-sided affair in which the Ephs played precise, calculating squash and took every match in three games.
The Cardinals had already fallen to Amherst and the Williams victory set up a showdown for the Little Three title. The Lord Jeffs were no match for the depth of the Williams lineup, however, as the Ephs dominated the day, losing only at the number one spot to one of the nation’s best players.
Parth Doshi ’03 was dominant at the number three spot, moving his opponent all over the court with a series of drops and volleys and of course with the occasional nick. Mike Bourke ’00 was also successful in the number four position, winning 3-0 and controlling his match with excellent length and carefully played boasts. Co-captain Rob Howell ’00 commented on the day’s matches, saying, “It is always exciting to beat Amherst in any sport, but it was particularly nice for the seniors to win the Little Threes, since we had never done it before.”
Coach Dave Johnson agreed, stating, “Our seniors have never won a Little Three title, so winning today was an important recognition of their hard work and commitment to the team. The fact that the match was lacking in competitive drama is a further compliment to just how far this team has come.”
The team traveled to New Haven on Saturday night to prepare for an important matchup with seventh-ranked Denison on Sunday morning in Yale’s fast courts. This match was a defining moment of the season for the Ephs, who were looking to secure the fifth seed at nationals.
With sixth-ranked Western Ontario having already beaten Denison 6-3, Williams needed at least the same score to avoid losing their position, as Western is not on their schedule. The Ephs responded with a strong effort, winning 6-3 through several outstanding individual efforts.
The team lost at the numbers one and two positions, but Doshi came through with a 3-0 victory over a talented opponent to secure the fifth victory at the number three spot. The all-important sixth win also came from a first-year as Max Montgelas ’03 overcame a 2-1 deficit in games and a 12-7 score in the fifth and deciding game to win.
Montgelas, playing after a long pleasant night’s sleep, covered the court beautifully and used precision dropshots to triumph in a long, brutal match. He commented on the victory, saying, “Like I’ve always said, you can always cover any ball in the court, and when you do victory soon follows.”
Howell, Jeff Roizen ’00 and Dave Adams ’00 all came through with important wins at numbers seven through nine, and Chris Delaney ’01 made quick work of his opponent in the number six position. Finally, Andrew Weller ’01, arriving only moments before the match in the Panthermobile, cleaned house at the number 11 spot, hardly changing color in an easy three-game win.
Coach Johnson summed up the victory, saying, “A milestone win! I was incredibly impressed with how well we competed at every position—and against a very good team. This win really demonstrates our season-long improvement.
“Heading into the tournament at number five is a tremendous accomplishment—the first team since 1984 to finish the regular season ranked so high.”
With the number five ranking secure, the Ephs can look forward to a first round showdown with fourth-ranked Yale at the national tournament in two weeks. Although the Bulldogs have already beaten Williams 6-3 and will have the home court advantage, the Ephs are playing extremely well right now and are hoping to pull off the upset in New Haven.