When the men’s squash team last took to the courts of Brady Squash Center, an Iraqi dictator was still at large, Yale had two Dicks at the top of its management, and the “Bungles” were still in the NFL playoff picture. The No. 2 Elis’ 9-0 victory over Williams College Dec. 3 seems more like a preseason scrimmage than the team’s season opener. The Bulldogs have been idle for a month and a half but this weekend’s schedule will not leave Yale any room for error.
The Elis take on seven teams this weekend, all ranked in the Top 30, at the Brady Squash Center.
The Bulldogs kick off the weekend against No. 28 Stanford on Friday afternoon, followed by No.17 Denison. On Saturday, Yale will face No. 20 Rochester, No. 21 Wesleyan, No. 18 Colby and No. 8 Dartmouth, before concluding the weekend against No. 5 Cornell on Sunday.
The Bulldogs’ work regimen over winter break should keep them from sloppy play. Coach Dave Talbott has been working the team hard to build up endurance and keep their skills sharp.
“We got back here Jan. 2. We only had one day off and have been doing a lot of two-a-days,” Steve Fair ’04 said.
The 72-hour marathon of matches hurls the team back into the high caliber competition characteristic of Ivy League squash–seven of the eight teams are ranked in the top 10. Stanford is the first opponent on the Eli’s chock full slate, with matches starting on Friday afternoon. The squad will not have much time to rest, as a match against Denison College begins two hours later, but the tight scheduling plays to one of the team’s strong suits — depth.
“We have a platoon,” William Rees ’06. “Every guy down to number twenty is a solid player. Plus, we can just crush some teams. We’re just really good.”
On Saturday morning, the Bulldogs will get an early start against Rochester followed by Wesleyan. The tightly-packed schedule then gets more difficult as the Elis square off against the higher seeded Colby an hour and a half later and round out the day against Dartmouth, Yale’s first top-ten and Ivy League opponent.
The Big Green was supposed to be the Bulldogs’ second Ivy opponent, but the match at No. 7 Pennsylvania on Dec. 6 was postponed until January 25 due to snowstorms.
Sunday, the Elis’ task will not get any easier. The trend of increasingly difficult opponents continues as the home stand comes to a close with a match against Cornell, the highest ranked team of the weekend.
Although Yale will be playing all teams lower than it in the national rankings, the Elis cannot take their opponents lightly, especially since the Bulldogs will take on Cornell barely 69 hours after their weekend begins on Friday.
Yale’s top-seed Julian Illingworth ’06 lost to the Cornell and Dartmouth first-seeds last year.
“I have to try to stay focused,” Illingworth said. “I need to bring my A game or I will have a very long weekend.”
With 18 of the 19 members of the squad healthy and ready to play, the Elis appear prepared for the hefty task at hand.
“The team has good depth, and that let’s us save some players for harder matches,” Fair said. “If someone does get injured, there is somebody else who can fill in to make the loss not as big.”
If the Bulldogs escape this scheduling gauntlet with their undefeated record intact, they will be poised to overtake Trinity for the number one spot in the polls. The Elis host Trinity Jan. 21.
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