“That’s what I’m talking about, baby!” echoed throughout the Jadwin Squash Center this past weekend after the men’s squash team earned a crucial 5–4 victory against perennial rival Princeton (6–2, 3–1 Ivy).
“Starting in August, we’ve been training with the Princeton match in mind,” Sharyar Aziz ’10 said. “This makes it all worth it — I’ve never been more proud or happy to be a member of this team.”
But Saturday’s win did not come easy, with four of nine matches decided in five games.
At No. 8, Robby Berner ’12 fought one of the hardest matches of the day against Princeton’s Jesus Pena. Pena took games one and three, while Berner secured two and four. In game five, Berner came from behind to win 16–14.
“Winning 16–14 in the fifth game takes a lot of guts,” Aziz said.
John Roberts ’12 was down 2–1 in the No. 5 position when he battled back in games four and five. Aaron Fuchs ’10 also scraped out a five-game victory against Christopher Callis. After dropping games one and two, Fuchs came back to win games three, four and five, 11–4, 11–8 and 11–9, respectively.
“[Fuchs’] win set the tone for and drove the rest of our matches,” CJ Plimpton ’11 said. “Overall, we became the more determined team.”
Added Aziz: “[Captain] Todd [Ruth ’10] told us in the huddle that, ‘luck favors the prepared.’ That was very fitting for this match, we were definitely the more prepared team.”
At No. 1, Kenny Chan ’13 came back from behind to take games three and four, 11–6 and 12–10, before dropping game five 11–2. The Elis also struggled at the No. 6 and No. 7 positions, losing both 3–0.
“Our squash program is all about being a blue-collar team that fights until the bitter end,” Aziz said. “That’s what it came down to on Saturday.”
This weekend’s match was not just another win for the Elis. Throughout the season, the Bulldogs knew that in order to reclaim the Ivy League title, they would need to take down the reigning champion. Princeton has held the Ivy title since 2007. The year before, Harvard, Princeton and Yale shared the championship equally.
“We pretty much just won the Ivy League championship,” Plimpton said after Saturday’s win. “Brown has never really challenged us. Harvard is really strong at No. 1, but otherwise we’re the favorites.”
At the beginning of the season the Elis were committed to two main goals: threaten Trinity at Nationals and take down Princeton. Now that they have accomplished the latter, the Bulldogs are setting their sights on putting an end to the Bantam’s 11-year-long squash dominance.
“After Saturday’s match, we’re obviously excited,” Rusty Feldman ’10 said. “But we have to finish strong — otherwise our win over Princeton won’t really mean as much. [The CSA National Championship] is a time to stay focused and work as hard as we’ve been working, since that is what has allowed us to have our success so far.”
The Bulldogs step back on the court Feb. 6 to take on Brown, and finish off their regular season on Feb. 13 at home against Harvard. The CSA Team Championships start Feb. 19.