Men’s squash returned to Hartford this weekend for NESCAC finals tournament after last weekend’s decisive sweep of the Little Three matchups. This time, neither Wesleyan nor Amherst challenged Williams as they stormed to the finals. The men overpowered Tufts and Bates on Saturday to secure a spot in the finals the following afternoon, where they fell to reigning champions Trinity.
Though seeded second in the tournament-style finals, the men were aware of the serious challenges they would face before claiming a chance to challenge Trinity. If Tufts represented a competitive but manageable first-round obstacle, then Bates constituted a very serious threat on the road to the finals. Having scraped out a 5-4 victory over the Bobcats just four weeks ago, the Ephs were braced for an all-out battle.
The men started the weekend off on Saturday with an early match against Tufts, who proved to be respectable opponents. Two top Williams players sat out to rest for the later match against Bates, so Alec Greaves-Tunnell ’13 and Jared Zuckerman ’12 rounded out the lineup at the eighth and ninth positions, respectively. The men raced to victory, dropping only three games on the path to a 9-0 sweep. Almost unbelievably, Jeremy Herrmann ’11 won his match at number seven without giving up a single point.
The men returned to the courts fully focused on their showdown with Bates. The men got off to a blistering start: in a display of single-minded intensity, Jack Ervasti ’13, tri-captain Bernard Yaros ’10 and Herrmann, playing numbers seven through nine, respectively, dominated their opponents without dropping a single game. Will Gruner ’11, in the fourth position, and Nick Marks ’13 at number six fought to solid first-round wins in four games each. Gruner played calculated and precise squash after coming up short in the first game, winning the third game 11-0.
Tri-captain and number one Ethan Buchsbaum ’10 and number two Will Morris ’12 were both thwarted in close matches, but by that point the men had earned the five points needed to clinch a spot in the finals. Tri-captain Christian Henze ’10 battled on at third, while Julian Drobetsky ’13 fought to finish at fifth. Henze came heartbreakingly short of a victory, losing 12-10 in the fifth. Seconds after he finished, Drobetsky was able to dismiss his opponent, sealing a solid 6-3 win over Bates.
On Sunday, the men faced reigning NESCAC and national champions Trinity. Once again, the Bantams proved to be too powerful a force for the Ephs, but the play was by no means one-sided. “It’s always a good experience matching up with the best program in the country, but I think our team showed a lot of fight today,” Henze said. “I think we took some really good steps forward this weekend, especially with the strong play from the freshmen.”
The men came into the weekend on the heels of a dominant sweep of the Little Three matchups against Wesleyan and Amherst on Jan. 30, before which they claimed a 9-0 victory over Brown in Providence before falling 7-2 to Cornell at home on Jan. 23 and 24, respectively.
Next up is a visit to Franklin and Marshall, Princeton and George Washington this weekend, as the Ephs look to build momentum for the B draw tournament at nationals, which are coming up at Yale on Feb. 20.