M. SQUASH | Elis fall one match short

After defeating No. 7 Dartmouth and No. 3 Princeton in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the CSA National Championships, the Bulldogs fell one match short of breaking No. 1 Trinity’s historic winning streak.
After defeating No. 7 Dartmouth and No. 3 Princeton in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the CSA National Championships, the Bulldogs fell one match short of breaking No. 1 Trinity’s historic winning streak. Photo by Florian Koenigsberger.

Cambridge, Mass. — The men’s squash team fell just one match short of winning the Potter Cup and ending Trinity’s unprecedented 242-contest win streak.

The No. 2 Elis (15–2, 6–0 Ivy) had convincing wins over No. 7 Dartmouth (10–8, 2–4) and No. 3 Princeton (11–3, 5–1), 8–1 and 7–2, respectively. In the final, the Bulldogs came close to being the first team to defeat the Bantams in 12 years, but the tried and true No. 1 Trinity team (20–0) pulled off the narrow 5–4 win for their 13th consecutive national title.

“[It was] as successful as the season could have been,” captain Naishadh Lalwani ’11 said. “We found a way to beat everyone else. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t do it against Trinity.”

In the first round, Yale faced a struggling Ivy League opponent in the Big Green. The Bulldogs outplayed

Richard Dodd ’13 lost the final match 3–1 to Christopher Binnie of Trinity.
Frank Plimpton
Richard Dodd ’13 lost the final match 3–1 to Christopher Binnie of Trinity.

Dartmouth at most spots on the ladder, winning six matches in straight games.

John Roberts ’12 lost his match at the No. 5 position in five closely contested games, losing the last game 11–9. Kenneth Chan ’13 lost the opening two games before coming back to win his match in five games.

“We were feeling confident and well prepared,” Chan said after the match. “We knew what we had to do and individually all managed to find a way to win our matches.”

The next day, the Bulldogs played the No. 3 Tigers, who were looking for revenge after dropping a close match to Yale earlier in the season, 5–4. However, the Elis stepped up their play and never looked challenged in their 7–2 victory over Princeton.

Despite dropping the top two spots on the ladder, Yale had a comfortable victory. Lalwani lost in five games at the No. 2 spot after winning the opening two.

Chan was forced to five games again, but pulled away with the victory after trailing 1–2 in games. According to Lalwani, Chan was never tired during the course of the weekend and was always ready for the next point.

“I think we just played to our potential,” Ryan Dowd ’12 said. “We lined up better this time around too. The individual matchups were more in our favor.”

Sunday’s national title match was a repeat of last year’s final in which Trinity won 6–3. The result this time around, 5–4, was an improvement over the Bulldogs’ performance earlier in the year when the Bantams brushed Yale aside with a 7–2 victory.

“Heartbreaking,” Lalwani said describing the loss. “Not much else I can say.”

Yale looked like it was on its way to victory early in the contest, jumping out to a quick 2–1 lead in the first set of matches with wins from No. 9 Christopher Plimpton ’11 and Chan.

Plimpton was all business in his final team match with Yale. He won in straight games and never gave his opponent an opening for victory.

Chan, who had played two consecutive five-game matches, was forced to work again against Trinity’s Andres Vargas at the No. 3 spot. After dropping the first game, he fell to the floor in a flurry of emotions as he pulled out a big victory in four games.

“It was very special for me personally because of my history with them,” Chan said after his match against Trinity. In last year’s national title contest, in a story that gained national attention, Chan was shoved by Trinity’s Baset Chaudhury after his 3–0 victory over Chan that sealed the Bantams’ 12th consecutive Potter Cup.

In the next set of matches, Yale again won two of the three contests. Lalwani fell to Trinity’s Parth Sharma in four games at the No. 2 after fighting back to tie it at 1–1. After three close games, Lalwani was unable to challenge Parth in the fourth. He showed signs of fatigue from his five-set endeavor against Princeton the previous day as he had difficulty chasing the ball down in that fourth game.

Robert Berner ’12 came through with a big win in four games to further increase the Bulldogs’ lead.

The closest match of the evening came between John Roberts ’12 and Trinity’s Randy Lim. Roberts pulled off the victory in five games, winning the last one 11–9.

Roberts and other Yale players were forced to play in a relatively hostile environment. Towards the end of the match, the Trinity crowd was loudly chanting and mocking the Yale players to invoke responses. Dowd said it felt like the match was being played in Hartford.

“The Trinity alum definitely tried to instigate some form of reaction from us with taunts and jeers,” Chan said. “The team, however, maintained its composure and class and left everything on the court.”

However, Roberts’ match would be the last match that Yale would win as the Bulldogs lost their last three matches, conceding the title to Trinity.

Hywel Robinson ’13 and Dowd lost their matches in straight games at the No. 1 and No. 7 spots, respectively. After close first games, neither player was able to challenge his opponent in the later rounds.

Richard Dodd ’13 took the court last with a chance to win the title for the Bulldogs at the No. 4 position. Dodd dropped the opening two games, 9–11, but he came back in the third game and won 11–9. That momentum was short lived, however, as Trinity’s Christopher Binnie wrapped up the victory in the fourth game, 11–7.

“I think he handled it so well,” Lalwani said about Dodd. “The maturity he showed out there today was really something.”

Next weekend, Yale will travel to Hanover to compete in the CSA Individual Championships.

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