Men’s squash places 10th at team nationals

In a hard fought weekend of play, the men’s squash team finished 10th at the team nationals at Princeton, as they captured victories over Denison and archrival Amherst before suffering a razor-thin loss to Brown on Sunday. While the final loss to Brown was a disappointing end to the weekend, Head Coach Zafi Levy ’01 expressed pleasure in the team’s performance.

“I am so proud of the boys,” Levy said. “We had such a successful weekend, eliminating Denison with such style before beating Amherst for the second time this year. The match against Brown could not have been closer as it went to the fifth game of the last match.”

The championship started on a high note for the Ephs in Friday’s first round match against Denison. Remembering the team’s regular season loss to Denison, the entire lineup, from top to bottom, came ready to play.

Unlike in their January loss, the Ephs jumped out of the gate to take an early lead. Playing a three court rotation, the third, sixth and ninth players, made up of Dan Bishop ’04, Charlie Giammattei ’05 and Chris Tom ’05, each gave the Ephs a win in the first round. Bishop, who had fallen to his opponent in the first match, capitalized on his opponent’s mistakes and ended up coasting to a three-game victory. Giammattei dropped the first game but manhandled Denison’s diminutive Pablo Buitron in the next three to win 3-1, while Tom secured a painless three-game victory over his inexperienced opponent.

The Ephs carried that momentum into the second round and closed the door on Denison’s hopes for victory. The team’s number two, co-captain Max Montgelas ’03, seized a three-game victory, while Todd Herlihy ’05 gave the Ephs their fifth win with another three-game victoryin which he shut his opponent out in the last game. At eight, Ted Unger ’06 fought a hard-hitting match with Sachin Obaid. After dropping the first game in extra points, Unger won the next two, including a 10-8 victory in the third. After dropping a tight fourth game, Unger rallied back from a 3-0 deficit in the fifth to win the last nine points for the match.

The team capped the day with two more wins in the last round, as Dave Morris ’03 at four and Brad Uy ’03 both earned wins with strong play despite knowing that the result of the match was already decided.

Traveling to the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, the Ephs faced a rematch with the dreaded Amherst. Playing on exceptionally hot courts, the team struggled early as Tom gained the only victory in the first round. In the second round, though, Herlihy, foreshadowing the next day, gave the squad a needed win with a four-game victory over David Bauer at five, while Montgelas came through as expected with a three-game victory over Mike Strong.

Needing to win two of the last three matches to claim the match, the trio of co-captain Parth Doshi ’03, Morris and Uy came through and swept the final round. Doshi dominated Amherst’s Gifford Sommerkamp in all three games and he coasted to victory, while Uy, continuing his strong play from the Denison match, used a dramatic comeback in the second game to propel himself to a 3-0 victory. Again playing in the final match, and with memories of his loss to Holodnak two weeks ago pushing him, Morris fought back from a 2-1 deficit to dominate the last two games, surrendering only five points total en route to a 3-2 victory.

In their final match, the Ephs once again faced Brown, to whom they had dropped a 6-3 decision early in the year. In a match that would have many momentum shifts, Brown took an early lead as Brad Corona and Robert Park played great squash to give the Bears wins at three and six. The situation became even bleaker when Tom and Monteglas each fell behind early in their matches, giving Brown hopes for a 4-0 lead.

But, playing in his final team match, Monteglas refused to go down. After falling behind 2-0 to Breck Bailey, Monteglas composed himself and took over the match. The senior captain took the third easily and clawed to a tight victory in the fourth game to tie the match at two. Monteglas raised his game again the fifth and shut out Bailey to earn a crucial 3-2 victory.

Two courts down, Tom fought off his early struggles against Gavin Watson, coming back to win the second game and tie the match at one apeice. Staying focused against the volatile Watson, Tom was able to take the last two games to give the Ephs a victory at nine.

Brown came back to take a 3-2 lead when number eight Jay Beidler captured a three game victory despite Unger’s best efforts, but the Ephs answered right back with a win by Herlihy. Finding himself in another tight match with Brown’s David Krupnick, Herlihy came back from a 2-1 deficit to win the fourth game and push the match to a deciding game. In a tense fifth game, Herlihy battled through exhaustion and converted on Krupnick’s mistake to take 7-5 lead. Seizing the opportunity, the sophomore raised the intensity and overwhelmed Krupnick in the last two points to win 9-5 and give the team a clutch third victory.

In the final round, Sean O’Boyle gave the Bears their fourth victory at number four, but once again the Ephs countered with a win by Uy at seven.

In another tightly contested match, Oliner took a 2-1 lead and held several match balls against Doshi in the fourth. Doshi, though, fought each one off and then broke the stalemate in extra points to win 10-9, sending the match to the fifth. In the fifth, Oliner used his volleys and cross drop shots to exploit Doshi’s lack of mobility, a result of a debilitating hip injury. Despite an all out effort by Doshi, Oliner was able to take the fifth game and give Brown the narrowest of victories.

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