Men’s squash settles for sixth place nationally following tough 5-4 loss

Following in the footsteps of its female counterparts, men’s squash finished with a sixth place result at the team national tournament at Yale this past weekend. The team stumbled against a powerful Harvard squad on Friday, re-grouped and routed eighth-ranked Brown on Saturday and lost a heartbreaking 5-4 decision against Dartmouth on Sunday to secure sixth place in the nation.

“We were disappointed to lose to Dartmouth,” Head Coach Dave Johnson said. “Still, I was very proud of our team’s accomplishments this season and our competitive presentation – tough, determined and committed. That is always the key thing I ask for from my teams at Williams, and I got it.”

The weekend was highlighted by several impressive individual performances. Leading the way in his last team matches was co-captain Win Tangjaitrong ’02. Playing out of the second position, Tangjaitrong was the only player on the squad to go undefeated over the three matches, beating strong opponents from both Harvard and Dartmouth.

Other players had strong weekends as well. Number five Dan Bishop ’04 and number six Dave Morris ’03 both finished the weekend with 2-1 records, with each notching a 3-0 victory in their matches against Dartmouth. Number one Parth Doshi ’03 also finished with two wins and one loss despite lower back pains that troubled him throughout the weekend.

The team began the tournament with a match against the fourth-seeded Harvard Crimson. Facing a talented team that was thirsty for blood following a crushing loss against archrival Yale during the week, the Ephs knew they were would be in for a challenge. Despite their best efforts, the Ephs fell to the Crimson 8-1. In a repeat of their regular season match, Tangjaitrong was able to beat Harvard’s Dylan Patterson 3-1 to prevent the shutout. Doshi was able to take a game away from Harvard’s number one, James Bullock, an improvement from their last matchup. The rest of the squad, though, fell to their Harvard opponents 3-0.

Shaking off the loss to the superior Crimson, the Ephs played against eighth-seeded Brown. Missing two of their top four players, this Brown squad was vastly different than the one that had run the Ephs to a surprisingly tight 5-4 victory earlier in the season. However, several Williams players had come away from that earlier contest upset with the way they had played and eagerly looked forward to their rematch with the Bears. In a drastically different match from their regular season meeting, the Ephs rolled over the Bears 9-0.

While the Ephs had beaten the Big Green 5-4 in the beginning of the season, the team knew they would have to play their best squash of the season to prevail. After the first four matches, the teams were squared at two apiece. Tangjaitrong, at the number two slot, and Morris at number six gave the Ephs their two wins. Morris’s win, a 3-0 victory over Dartmouth’s Jesse Nisselson, marked the highlight of his squash this season.

“Dave played a spectacular match at six,” Johnson said. “Their kid had lost to Dan Bishop in five games the first time, so for Dave to win in three games is impressive. It is the first time that Dave has really come through in a pressure situation for us.”

Also winning in the first group of matches was Charlie Giammattei ’05, who posted an outstanding win against Dartmouth’s Chris O’Connell in an exhibition match. At one, Doshi posted an impressive 3-1 victory over Dartmouth’s Ryan Donagan, one of the best freshmen in collegiate squash.

“Between Win and Parth, we have two of the premier players in the country,” Johnson said. “That was a big win for Parth, especially after dropping the first game. Donagan’s a good player who has beaten some premier players this year.”

Bishop, playing out of the five spot, followed in Morris’s footsteps and rolled over his opponent in three games. However, despite strong play from Max Montgelas ’03 at three, captain Matt Haldeman ’02 at seven and Todd Herlihy ’05 at nine, the Ephs were unable to take one more match and were forced to surrender the fifth ranking to the Big Green.

Even though his team finished on a losing note, Johnson still was very pleased with the season and grateful for the performance turned in by the departing class.

“We have a great group of kids, one of the biggest teams in the country and we really achieved a lot this year, and I place a lot of the credit for that on the seniors [Tangjaitrong, Haldeman, and Pat Curtis ’02].

“Those guys played their hearts out. Guys like Haldeman and Curtis have worked their way up the ladder during their time, and they were crucial members of the team this year. They often had to play some key matches at the bottom of the lineup, and they fought hard and often beat kids who have been playing tournament squash for a number of years.”

The top players now head to Princeton this weekend to take part in the individual championships.Â