Men’s squash take Little Three title

Different coach, same results. For the fourth straight year, the men’s squash team captured the Little Three Championships, defeating both Wesleyan and host Amherst last Saturday. The wins boost the Ephs’ record to 7-9 on the season and give the team some momentum as they close out the regular season and head into Team National Championships this coming weekend at Princeton University.

“”I think [Head Coach] Zafi [Levy] has done a great job coaching the players on the technical and strategic aspects of the game,” Co-Captain Parth Doshi ’03 said. “The effort by everyone on the team has been exceptional and improvement very noticeable. I think we are ready to put in our best and play to our full potential at the Team Nationals this weekend.”

Coming down early Saturday morning, the Ephs were given a gift by host Amherst and were able to play Wesleyan in the first match of the day instead of playing two consecutive matches. Urged by Levy to play to their potential and to get off the courts as fast as possible, the Ephs made short work of the Cardinals. All 10 players won their match in the minimum three games, with several players recording shutouts in one or more games.

The Ephs dominance was most apparent at the bottom of the lineup. The seven through ten players, consisting of Brad Uy ’03, Ted Unger ’06, Scott Pierce ’05 and Alex Saltzman ’05, each shut their opponent out in at least one game and won by a combined points score of 108-9.

After eating lunch and resting, the Ephs came back on court to square off against the dreaded Lord Jeffs for the Little Three Championship. In the first set of matches, the Ephs jumped to an early 3-1 lead. Number two Co-Captain Max Montgelas ’03, still showing signs of the illness that hampered him the week before, played sound squash in defeating Amherst’s Mike Strong in three games in front of a boisterous Amherst crowd. Charlie Giammattei ’05, playing number six, struggled in the first game against Nick Haslett, dropping it 3-9. To no one’s surprise, though, Giammattei fought back and took the next two games to seize a 2-1 lead. In the fourth game Giammattei held an 8-5 advantage, but failed to close the door, as Haslett came back to win 10-8 and tie the match at two games apiece. Unfazed by Haslett’s recovery, Giammattei continued to plug away through the fifth game, eventually wearing down Haslett to the point of exhaustion. Giammattei took the final game 9-6, giving the Ephs a crucial win further down in the lineup.

At four, Dave Morris ’03 crushed John Holodnak in the first game, 9-0, but began to commit unforced errors that gave Holodnak a chance back into the match. Holodnak took the second game relatively easily and then clawed out wins in the third and fourth games to match 3-1. In his first Little Three experience, Unger rose to the occasion and dominated Asad Haque. Unger took the first game 9-6 and then never looked back, winning the next two by a comfortable 9-3 margin.

Playing in his final regular season match, Doshi wasted little time with Amherst’s Gifford Sommerkamp. Simply overmatching Sommerkamp by dominating the court and flustering him with an array of shots, Doshi cruised to a three game victory, surrendering only seven points the entire match.

Number three Dan Bishop ’04 faced the biggest test of the day as he played against Amherst’s Carlo Valdesolo. Bishop, who said he played some of his best squash, jumped out to two game lead over Valdesolo. In a tightly contested battle, Valdesolo rallied back to win two highly competitive games to tie the score at two. In the final game, Bishop unfortunately suffered from cramps in his leg, inhibiting his running ability. Valdesolo took advtange and seized the fifth to secure a 3-2 win for the Lord Jeffs.

Bishop’s loss, though, was offset by a victory at five by Todd Herlihy ’05. Herlihy came out flat in the first game against David Bauer, losing 5-9 but came back to win the next two easily. In the fourth, Herlihy outlasted Bauer in a close game, winning 9-7 for a four game victory. The Ephs’ final win came at number nine from Chris Tom ’05. Tom struggled early against Tyler Mixter and also lost the first game. Shaking off the first game loss and the awkwardness of playing on a converted hardball court, Tom rallied to play more consistent squash and took the next three games to give the Ephs their sixth win of the day.

The Ephs have now had a week to rest up and practice for the upcoming Team Championships where they will be seeded tenth. Their first round opponent is likely to be Denison, to whom the Ephs suffered a disappointing 5-4 loss earlier in the year. Despite playing in a deep division that includes the likes of Brown, Amherst and Bowdoin, the Ephs will look to win out and take top seeding.