For the No. 3 Yale men’s squash team, the toughest part of its schedule is quickly approaching.
The Bulldogs (6–0, 2–0 Ivy) will head to No. 5 Rochester (6–1) on Saturday in hopes of defending their current ranking. Rochester will be the highest-ranked opponent that Yale will have faced so far this season.
“It’s going to be a really close, tight, match,” associate head coach Pam Saunders said. “It’s not going to be easy. It’ll probably be 5–4, one way or the other, but I think our men are ready for it.”
The No. 5 women’s team (6–0, 2–0 Ivy) will stay at home this weekend to face Haverford (1–3) and Tufts (3–5) on Sunday.
The Rochester men will be playing for the first time since defeating No. 7 Princeton in early December. The Yellowjackets beat the Tigers 6–3 in that match, while Yale overcame Princeton 5–4 at the Ivy Scrimmages in November.
Yale came out on top when the Bulldogs and Yellowjackets met last season, but both teams have lost star players and recruited new talent since then, so this year’s contest appears to be anyone’s match. The Eli men will rely on the depth in the middle of their ladder, which has helped them in tight matches this season.
“Rochester’s one of those teams where we have a shot to win in every spot, but so do they,” men’s captain Eric Caine ’14 said. “They’re uniformly strong across the board and so are we, so I don’t think any one spot is more or less important than another.”
The team’s three freshmen have been especially strong at the fourth through sixth seeds. Thomas Dembinski ’17, Kah Wah Cheong ’17 and Liam McClintock ’17 are 12–1 combined this season, with the only loss coming when Cheong played at No. 1 against Amherst in the first match of the season.
“They’ve been outstanding, all three of them,” Caine said. “They’re showing a lot of maturity. The sky’s the limit for what each of them can do, and hopefully they can continue this consistency through Rochester, Trinity and the whole season.”
The women’s team, meanwhile, will attempt to continue its streak of not losing an individual match, which it has been able to do for the first six matches of the season.
In November, Haverford was swept by Franklin & Marshall, a team that the Bulldogs beat without dropping a single game. Tufts has had slightly more success against its competition, but still ranks 28th in the Collegiate Squash Association, 23 spots below Yale.
“We’re hoping to go in and work some on our games,” Saunders said. “It’s tougher on the women’s side, because there’s not as much competition, the team’s aren’t as deep. We’re expecting to win those pretty comfortably, but you never know what the day will bring.”
For both teams, the ultimate test will come next Wednesday when they face Trinity. The Trinity men’s team is ranked first in the country and its women’s team is ranked second.
The Eli men will square off at Rochester on Saturday at 12:00 p.m., and matches for the women will begin at the Brady Squash Center on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.