This past weekend, the men’s squash team traveled to Middlebury, Vermont to attend the NESCAC Championship tournament, the first of two major tournaments in their season.
The team arrived in solid standing. In the weeks leading up to the start of the semester on Jan. 28, the team played 10 matches, the bulk of their regular season. Through this stretch, the team finished with a record of 4-6, facing stiff competition like Yale, Brown, Middlebury and Williams.
The players, however, attributed the interterm period to building resiliency, which would become necessary in their tournament play. Sophomore Reginald Brewster said “The training over break is definitely hard, but it is great because as a team we get a lot closer and I think because of that we saw a lot of our hard work payoff for NESCACs.”
On Feb. 2 and 3, the squash team attended the NESCAC Championships. Entering the tourney hosted by Middlebury College as the fifth seeded, the Mammoths faced Bates in the first round on Saturday. In this matchup, the Mammoths eventually fell to the Bobcats by a match count of 3-6.
Three bright spots showed for the Mammoths despite the outcome. Charles Sutherby ’22, Harith Khawaja ’19 and Robinson Armour ’22 all won their matches handily. On the third court, Sutherby beat a persistent Omar Attia in four sets, each decided by two points or fewer.
The second court saw what may have been the most exciting match of the day when Khawaja beat his opponent in five sets 11-9, 14-12, 7-11, 5-11, 12-10. Finally, on the fourth court, Armour beat his Bobcat challenger in three straight sets, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8.
With a loss in the first round of the tournament, the Mammoth team was shunted to the consolation bracket in which they met Colby, whose record was 4-11 on the season.
In close matches on all courts, the Mammoths won the five games necessary to secure a victory over the Mustangs. Despite losing on the top three courts, courts four through eight all found ways to win. The key match was a five-set thriller on the fourth court between Armour and Alex Kurtin. Armour dropped the first two games, but in a display of perseverance, he won the final three sets 11-9, 11-8, 11-9.
The next and final matchup of the tournament was against the fourth-seeded Bowdoin Polar Bears. Against Bowdoin on Sunday, the Mammoths were able to score wins in the first four spots. Terrence Wang ’21 got his first victory on the weekend at the one spot when he faced Ian Squiers, winning the first three sets (11-6, 11-6, 11-8). Armour also swept his opponent at number four, limiting him to fewer than four points in each set (11-3, 11-4, 11-2).
According to Brewster, head coach Peter Robson had been stressing toughness recently and the Mammoths demonstrated just that after losing early but regrouping and finishing the tournament with two hard-fought wins.
“I think our next wins over Colby and Bowdoin showed how hard we worked,” Brewster said. “We came home feeling really proud of those wins.”
Men’s squash is looking to carry this momentum into nationals, the final tournament of the season held by Yale. The Mammoths will be back in action the weekend of Feb. 15 in New Haven, Connecticut.