Having achieved an end-of-season national ranking of 11th, men’s squash addressed its last order of business for the year at the annual College Squash Association (CSA) Individual Championships. The men sent their top three players to compete in the Malloy ‘B’ Division, a six-round draw that featured a nationwide selection of the best college players outside the top 32. Co-captains Will Gruner ’11 and Jeremy Herrmann ’11 competed in their last weekend of college competition, accompanied by team No. 1 Will Morris ’12. Omar Sobhy of George Washington won the championship title.
After losing their second-round matches on Saturday, the Ephs competed in the second-round consolation draw on Sunday. Each player lasted through a brutal five-game contest in his third match of the weekend. Morris and Herrmann bowed out following incredibly close losses, while Gruner forced his opponent to crumble, securing his advance. Morris had lost a grueling five-game match to his opponent Harry Smith, Colby’s top player, earlier in the season, and their rematch proved to be just as close. Having lost the first two games, including a marathon 14-12 finish in the first, Morris clawed his way back with two dominant games to even the score. His impressive comeback was cut short, though, with an 11-5 loss in the fifth.
Herrmann had an equally draining match against Alex Dodge, the top player from St. Lawrence. After winning the opening game, Herrmann lost a very close second game 13-11. The third proved to be longer still, with Herrmann eventually pulling out a gritty 15-13 victory. After such a draining start, the captain was not able to hold on for the win and his tournament ended in the second round.
Gruner produced a 15-13 win of his own to tie his match against Andrew Bernard, Bowdoin’s top player, at 1-1. They traded games again in the third and fourth, but Gruner proved too much for his opponent and outlasted Bernard to seal a win in the fifth. The last Williams’ athlete in the tournament, Gruner advanced to play Cornell No. 6 Jalan Rashi. Gruner seized the third game after losing the first two by narrow margins, but his run came to an end with an 11-8 loss in the fourth.
Prior to the consolation draw, the second round of play proved difficult for the men, as each lost his match on Friday. Morris fought valiantly, especially in his close 12-10 loss in the first game, but he faced a two-game deficit. He was not to be dismissed easily, though, as he powered back to a solid win in the third game and narrowly lost the fourth 11-9. Herrmann and Gruner both drew strong opponents in the second round, with Herrmann’s adversary proceeding on to the quarterfinals and Gruner’s opponent, Rochester’s Matt Domenick, finishing second overall. The Ephs did their best to forestall their opponents’ progress, however. Herrmann fought hard against Robert Berner, a member of the second-ranked Yale team, taking his opponent to two 11-8 games despite losing in three. Gruner managed to take each of his last two games to 11-9 before falling in three games.
Despite their second-round matches, the weekend started successfully for each player on Friday: Williams tallied three wins in the first round, each Eph against an opponent who played number one for his team in the regular season. Morris cruised to a comfortable victory in three games over Tarit Rao-Chakravorti from Swarthmore, advancing to the round of 32. Herrmann likewise eased to a win in three against Hamilton’s number one Martin Bawden, while Gruner fought to a 12-10 win in the first game of his clash with Kenyon’s top contender Peter Nolan before securing his spot in the next round with a win in straight games.
Head Coach Zafi Levy was pleased with the efforts put forth by each player. “I thought our guys played really hard this weekend,” he said. “Will Gruner and Jeremy Hermann ended their college careers on a very high note, and Will Morris showed how talented he is by pushing superior competitors to close matches.”
Gruner, Herrmann and Eli Bronfman ’11 will all graduate this spring, leaving behind a roster full of young talent. Next season will prove yet another opportunity for the remaining men to showcase their talents in hopes of team success.