For the men’s squash team, Saturday’s decisive 9-0 victory over Brown (2-8, 0-6 Ivy) was bittersweet. The Bulldogs breezed past the Bears with every match won in straight sets. But for the senior Elis, who played their last home matches this weekend, the win came with some sadness.
“It was the last round for all of us,” captain Ethan Oetter ’09 said. “It was a weird feeling getting off the court and seeing the underclassmen finishing up their matches. I started to realize that we weren’t going to do that again. It still hasn’t sunk in yet completely.”
But at least this weekend’s match provided satisfying endings for the senior Bulldogs. Playing at No. 3 and No. 6, respectively, Francis Johnson ’09 and Bill Hatch ’09 only gave up one total point each, winning their matches 9-0, 9-0 and 9-1. Colin Campbell ’09 at No. 4 and Oetter at No. 8 swept their opponents in three sets.
“Everybody really took care of business,” Rusty Feldman ’10 said. “And the seniors really showed their mettle by having really strong matches across the board.”
Bolstering the Bulldog victory were impressive performances from underclassmen, including John Fulham ’11. Playing in the top spot, the sophomore crushed his visibly exhausted opponent, Adrian Leanza, 9-2, 9-1 and 9-1 . Four times during the match, Leanza had to throw himself on the floor to get to the ball , only to be finished off by a strategically hit ball in the far right corner.
“John keeps getting better and better as the season goes on and he has been playing his ‘back wall’ squash,” Oetter said, referring to Fulham’s ability to return every ball. “At team nationals and at individuals, he’s going to surprise a lot of people. I don’t know of anyone who has improved as much as he has.”
Down the rest of the ladder, Todd Ruth ’10 at No. 2, C.J. Plimpton ’11 at No. 5, Mike Maruca ’11 at No. 7 and Feldman at No. 9 all swept their opponents, 3-0.
“Our coach told us to get in, get it down, and get out,” Maruca said. For Maruca, victory was even sweeter as he was spurred on by a special cheering section: “My old high school team was there watching, as they were playing in the high school nationals this weekend. It was nice to play with them there watching.”
Even as the 2009 season winds down, the Elis are looking ahead to their national competitions later this month and their last conference match of the season at Harvard this Wednesday.
“Everybody’s pretty fit right now, we’ve got a shot at winning,” Ruth said. “It’s going to be tough up in Boston, we’re just going to have to play our best.”
Due to their loss last week against Princeton, the Bulldogs (13-2, 4-1 Ivy) are no longer eligible for the Ivy League title. The match against the Crimson will decide which team will claim the No. 2 spot.
“Harvard is always a big deal no matter what the implications are, and any time we get to play them it’s a huge match,” Feldman said. “Every match against Harvard demands our best and I think we’ll give that on Wednesday.”
Oetter added, “We were the first college team in squash, Harvard was the second. There’s a lot of history and rivalry there. They have won tons of national titles and they have a winning record playing against us. Anytime we have a chance to beat them, we’re pretty darn excited.”