Penn edges out men’s squash

In the final weekend of the season, men’s squash (16-8) returned to the Yale courts to compete in the ‘B’ division of the Men’s Team Nationals. The ‘B’ draw, named the Hoehn Cup in honor of a former Dartmouth coach, pitted the ninth through 16th teams in the nation against each other in a tournament that featured many of the Ephs’ fiercest competitors of the year. Though the men recorded wins over Bowdoin and Bates to reach the finals, they fell short in the championship, losing 5-4 to Penn.

Friday’s quarterfinal match against Bowdoin set the tone for the weekend, as the Ephs dismantled the Polar Bears. Tri-captains Bernard Yaros ’10 and Christian Henze ’10, along with Will Gruner ’11 and Jack Ervasti ’13, dispatched their opponents in straight sets in the No. 8, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6 positions. The rest of the team fought through longer matches to solidify the 9-0 win. Nick Marks ’13 and Jeremy Herrmann ’11, playing at No. 5 and No. 7, outlasted and outplayed their tough opponents to win in five games, with Marks fighting his way back from an initial 2-0 deficit.

With two previous encounters with Bates already behind them this season, the Ephs focused on taming the Bobcats for a third time on Saturday. From the start it was clear that the men had redoubled their intensity: Henze, again at No. 3, and tri-captain Ethan Buchsbaum ’10 at No. 1 fell in lengthy matches, but the remainder of the lineup held fast for the victory. Yaros and Julian Drobetsky ’13 led the way with first-round wins, and the men went on to sweep the second round and guarantee a win. In an energetic match, Will Morris ’12 exacted revenge on Bates’ Jordan Greenberg after a previous loss at the NESCAC championships. Gruner and Ervasti secured two more wins at No. 4 and No. 7 in the final round, handing Williams a decisive 7-2 victory that would propel the team into the finals.

Sunday’s disappointing result was reminiscent of the men’s previous meeting with Penn, with Williams once again falling just short of victory. The men found themselves in a deep hole early on, after Henze and Drobetsky lost at No. 3 and No. 6. Both players fought intense matches, but were ultimately unable to claim victories. Yaros scored a key victory at No. 9, his devastating reach frustrating his opponent’s fight to victory. The second round saw the gap widen to impossible lengths, as Morris, Marks and Herrmann all succumbed after bitter struggles. At No. 8, Herrmann won the third game after dropping the first two, fighting through the longest game seen by the team all weekend before falling 14-16 in the fourth. Morris fought at second through three tight games, keeping pace until the very end. Marks’ battle at No. 5 saw the first-year seize the first game, but he couldn’t keep up as the match progressed.

Down 5-1, the Ephs found themselves facing a loss that no number of wins could correct, but the remaining players still fought on. At No. 1, Buchsbaum finished his career with a demolition of his opponent in straight games. Ervasti powered back after dropping the first game to win in four at No. 7, and Gruner concluded the match in top form with a decisive 3-0 win in his No. 4 matchup.

Head Coach Zafi Levy expressed his pride in his players, especially the seniors. “I could not be more proud of the boys who played so well all weekend long,” he said. “We had many chances to bring the trophy home but we came just short.”

This weekend’s defeat marks the end of the ’09-’10 team season. Though the field is as yet undetermined, Williams hopes to send five of the best men to Individual Championships March 5-7. The team will look to return stronger next year: The relatively young Eph squad will retain 13 players next season.