“It’s like the Harlem Globetrotters going up against the Washington Generals” was the analogy that men’s squash player Christopher Olsen ’03 chose to use when discussing his team’s upcoming match with No. 1 Trinity this evening.
In a fashion that has been uncharacteristic of the unflagging confidence many Yale players have projected thus far this season, Olsen compared his team with the underdog of underdogs — the lowly Generals, who never stand a chance against the near-invincible Globetrotters.
This might have seemed strange to some, considering the fact that No. 3 Yale (5-0, 1-0 Ivy) has been utterly unchallenged all season. The Bulldogs have yet to lose more than one position in a match and have rolled through the first part of their schedule, defeating No. 10 University of Pennsylvania and, this past weekend, No. 9 Denison University.
Yale is coming off a successful winter break in which the team, minus its number one player, Anshul Manchanda ’04, traveled to San Francisco to train and play in a series of matches against club competition, as well as matches against No. 20 Stanford and No. 32 University of California-Berkeley.
The Bulldogs trounced both college teams, winning 9-0 and 8-1, respectively.
“No one really had hard matches [against Stanford and Berkeley],” said Joshua Schwartz ’05, who has been playing in the second position.
Despite the relative ease with which Yale disposed of the West Coast competition, both Schwartz and Olsen agreed that the trip was valuable, citing cross-training and competitive matches with club players.
Upon returning from California, Yale again dominated against Denison on Sunday. The only loss came at the expense of Manchanda, who fell to Denison’s 13th-ranked Javier Castilla. Manchanda, who is himself ranked 16th, said the match was not entirely disappointing for him, and added he was optimistic for his next encounter with Castilla, who was a first-team All American last year.
“He is a very crafty player,” said Manchanda. “I put up a good fight. I need these matches to improve as a player.”
Despite their play this season, it seems that the Bulldogs have not yet proven that they can be competitive with the Bantams. Trinity boasts a squad composed almost entirely of international recruits, seven of whom are ranked in the nation’s top 20. Manchanda, by contrast, is the only Eli in the top 20.
“Trinity is a much better team than us,” he said. “We must all step up to give them a good fight.”
Still, as they have maintained all season, players said that their daily challenge matches, in which they battle one another for position on the team, have prepared them for the likes of Trinity.
“Our challenge matches are more intense [than the games thus far],” Olsen said. “People take them more seriously.”
The Bulldogs will need to bring this intensity to Hartford in order to defeat Trinity, but for Olsen, at least, the fix does not necessarily seem to be in as it was for Washington so many times.
“Even the Generals won once,” he said playfully.