The Williams men’s squash team traveled to Yale University for the National Intercollegiate Team tournament this past weekend, finishing sixth after winning one match and dropping two. The squad was seeded fifth heading into the tournament and faced a tough first round match against the host school.
The Yale squad had beaten the Ephs 6-3 earlier in the season but had since lost a player to injury and, with the Williams team playing quite well, the match was much anticipated. Both teams had strong support in the galleries for the entire three-hour contest. The Ephs got off to a shaky start in the first round, losing three of the first four matches.
Win Tanjaitrong ’02 came through with a decisive 3-0 victory in the number two position, overcoming a tenacious opponent. Chris Delaney ’01 and Dave Adams ’00 were unable to win in the numbers six and eight spots, falling to talented Yale players.
Mike Bourke ’00 gave all he had in the number four position, losing 3-0 to Yale’s J.J. Olukatan ’00, whose superb retrieval skills and amazing fitness were too tough. In an exhibition match at number ten, co-captain Jeff Roizen ’00 won a tough five-game contest, demonstrating excellent racquet work and his typical superior level of fitness.
The second round of matches would determine the final outcome, however, and the Williams team played tough matches at every position.
Zafrir Levy ’01 played his usual precise, calculating squash in a 3-1 victory on center court. Levy ’01 was just too much for his opponent, placing careful drop shots and then driving the ball deep into the corners. Parth Doshi ’03 came through with a huge victory at the number three position, winning 17-16 in the fifth game after bouncing back from several questionable let calls to win the final point in an important match.
Fellow first-year Max Montgelas came through with another key victory, outlasting his Yale opponent in five games. Montgelas was an excellent match player all season for the Ephs, winning whenever the team most needed it.
The Ephs lost at the number seven spot, as co captain Rob Howell ’00 fell 3-0. Howell played extremely well, however, losing in three close games. The match was decided at the number nine spot, as Richard Scott ’00 played a five game contest with his Yale opponent. Coming back from a 2-1 deficit, Scott was able to force a fifth game, but fell in a tie-breaker 17-15, giving Yale the 5-4 victory.
Coach Dave Johnson commented on the loss, saying, “The Yale match was a real heartbreaker, but I am very proud of our guys’ effort. We knew it would be a 5-4 match and it couldn’t have been much closer, coming down to the last match. Our fitness and competitiveness were great and it really could have gone either way.”
The Ephs met eighth-seeded Dartmouth College on Saturday and secured a 6-3 victory to advance to a playoff for fifth and sixth place. Despite having beaten Dartmouth 8-1 earlier in the season, the Ephs knew theit rematch would not be as easy, since Yale’s fast courts would help equalize any advantage they had in talent.
Nonetheless, the Williams squad took care of business, winning at the numbers two through six spots, as well as at number nine. Tanjaitrong continued his dominance over the Dartmouth number two, winning his second match of the weekend in quick time.
Bourke rebounded from his Yale loss to play excellent squash, winning convincingly at the number four position. Co-captain Howell got into a battle at the number seven spot, falling 15-12 in the fifth game after a valiant comeback fell just short. Adams met a similar fate, losing 15-12 in the fifth after capturing the third and fourth games.
Scott managed to grind out a 15-13 win in the fifth at the number nine spot. Doshi also played wonderfully, winning 3-0 while displaying unbelievable shot-making in the victory.
The final match of the weekend pitted the Ephs against a relatively unknown Western Ontario squad for fifth place. The Western team was quite talented and had similar scores against common opponents, but it was not a good day for Williams, as fatigue played a part in a 6-3 loss. Levy made an exceptional comeback at the number one spot. Trailing 14-10 in the fourth game and down 2-1, Levy raised the level of his game, forcing and capturing a tiebreak and going on to win easily in the fifth. Tanjaitrong and Doshi were also victorious on the day, demolishing their Western opponents.
Adams fought hard at the number eight spot, again falling in five games, while Howell played well but dropped his contest in four. Roizen played his best squash of the weekend in the number ten spot, winning 3-0 by using excellent depth and solid volleys while moving his opponent all over the court.
In the end, however, the Ephs looked drained after two close matches, and Western Ontario captured all of the bottom six positions.
Co-captain Howell said of the loss, saying, “We could have played better on Sunday, but, under the circumstances, we put in our best effort and a sixth place finish is still very respectable.”
The 1999-2000 men’s squash season came to a close on Sunday afternoon at Yale with a loss, but the season was very successful, and the team came within a few points of a fourth place finish.
The team had excellent senior leadership and will graduate five players in the top ten, leaving the door open for some of the younger players who have been waiting in the wings for a few years.
Johnson summed up the season, stating, “This team was great fun to work with and all of the hard work they put in really paid off. While it would have been nice to finish higher, I am very pleased with the results of the weekend and the entire season.”