Men’s squash earns Little Three title

Men’s squash culminated a very successful regular season by wrapping up the Little Three Championship with easy wins over Amherst and Wesleyan at Amherst on Saturday. These wins, combined with victories over Vassar on Wednesday and Brown last Saturday, meant that the Ephs had secured number five position for the team championship tournament at Harvard in two weeks.

Faced with having to play two matches back-to-back on Saturday, the Ephs first squared off against number 19-ranked Wesleyan, traditionally an easy match for Williams. This year proved to be no different, as the Ephs rolled over the Cardinals 8-1. The team’s top seeds, number one Parth Doshi ’03 and co-captain number two Win Tangjaitrong ’02, coasted to easy straight-game wins, despite attempts by Tangjaitrong’s opponent to antagonize him. Co-captain Matt Haldeman ’02, playing in his final Little Three matches, shutout his opponent by winning all three games 9-0. Out of the 16 matches played on the day, Williams won 15 of them 3-0.

The only setback was at the number five position, where a very ill Dan Bishop ’04 fell in five games. Bishop raced out to a quick two game lead, but the illness that had kept him in bed the day before caught up to him and his Wesleyan opponent was able to wear him down.

Immediately following the Wesleyan rout, the Ephs stepped back onto the court to face archrival Amherst. Again in this match, the Ephs displayed their superior talent level as they dismantled the Lord Jeffs 8-1 to clinch the Little Three Title.

Doshi and Tangjaitrong rolled to three game victories again. First-year Todd Herlihy ’05, playing at the number nine position, crushed his opponent, allowing him to win only one point in the entire match. Dave Morris ’03, playing out of the six slot, posted an impressive comeback victory in his first game, as he rallied back from an 8-3 deficit to win the game 10-8. With his early slump behind him, Morris cruised past his opponent in the next two games to win 3-0.

Playing number eight, Pat Curtis ’02 once again displayed the grit that helped him throughout the season as he won his first two games 9-7 and 9-8 before finishing his opponent off with comparative ease in the third game.

Max Montgelas ’03, Ross Koller ’04 and Haldeman also won their matches with relative ease, as the team clinched head coach Dave Johnson’s ninth Little Three title in 15 years.

The wins on Saturday concluded a successful week in which the entire squad was able to contribute. “It was a good, solid win for our coach and for our school,” Haldeman said. “Amherst and Wesleyan are not as strong as some of our other opponents, but winning the Little Three title still means a whole lot.”

On Wednesday, the Ephs traveled to take on the 24th-ranked Vassar. Coach Johnson used the match as a chance for some of the younger players to gain some match experience. As a result, the team was a mixture of top players such as Doshi and Bishop and several first-years; despite the inexperience of several contributors, the result could not have been any better, as the Ephs posted a convincing 9-0 victory.

Doshi, Bishop, Charlie Giammattei ’05, Brad Uy ’03, Scott Pierce ’05 and John MacKinnon ’05 all won in three games, while Herhily, Chris Tom ’05 and Ned Hole ’05 won their respective matches in four games.

The final match of the day, though, proved to be the highlight of match. First year Alex Saltzman ’05, playing in the number nine seed, traded the first two games with his Vassar opponent before winning the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Faced with a chance to win the match, Saltzman played poorly in the fourth game, losing 9-2 and the contest came down to a deciding fifth game. A frustrated Saltzman managed to regroup, however, and he proceeded to crush his opponent in the fifth game 9-0 and preserve the shutout for the Ephs.

With the bulk of their matches completed, the Ephs will spend the next two weeks preparing for the upcoming team championships at Harvard. However, the Ephs will travel down to Hartford Thursday night to play their final match of the regular season against Trinity, far and away the best team in the country. Game time is 7 p.m.

“We’re gearing up for nationals by this point,” Haldeman explained. “We know going in that we’ve got three teams really gunning for us – Dartmouth, Cornell and Brown – all of whom we barely beat out during the regular season.

“In the national tournament it doesn’t matter what happened during the regular season; if they beat us there they’ll end the season ranked higher than us. We need to remain focused, we need to peak right now.”