Williams senior Win Tangjaitrong was visibly upset as he stepped off the main exhibition court after the second game of what would be a fiercely competitive and emotionally charged match with Yale men’s squash player Joshua Schwartz ’05. The 11th-ranked Tangjaitrong, who normally plays the number one slot for Williams, was being dominated by an unranked, relatively unknown freshman.
Schwartz sat calmly on his bench as Tangjaitrong paced with a teammate along the other side of the court, shaking his head.
“I think I really surprised him,” said Schwartz, who learned on the day of the match that he would be playing the two-time All-American. “I was surprised, but I had thought that, if I could make the rallies longer, I might be able to tire him out.”
When Tangjaitrong took the court, Schwartz proceeded to win the first five points. But the Williams player responded after losing the first two games, winning the third game and dominating Schwartz in the fourth game, 9-2, to even the match.
“I came out really pumped up, but I knew he was going to come out strong,” Schwartz said.
The crowd, which had started with about 25, filled up the stands and poured out onto the railing above the court. Schwartz, along with the crowd, became emotional, yelling out after losing his service point during the third game.
A back-and-forth fifth game left the score knotted at seven, nearly an hour and a half after the match had begun. Tangjaitrong put the Yale freshman away with two consecutive points, to narrowly win the match 3-2. While Schwartz yelled out in disgust after his narrow miss, the senior raised his arms in the air, and waved at the crowd, clearly relieved.
Although Schwartz’s loss on Friday was only a small part of the weekend for the Yale squash team, his intensity provided inspiration for what would be an almost flawless performance for the team.
Yale (13-1, 3-0 Ivy) went on to defeat No. 5 Williams (5-1) 8-1. The Bulldogs proceeded to dispose of the rest of their competition, beating Rochester, 9-0, Friday, then defeating No. 7 Cornell, 8-1; No. 17 Wesleyan, 8-1; and Fordham, 9-0, Saturday. Sunday, Yale was equally successful, defeating No. 6 Dartmouth, 8-1; No. 16 Bowdoin, 9-0; and No. 15 Bates, 9-0.
“[Schwartz’s match] would have been a huge upset,” Yale captain Peter Grote ’02 said, adding that Schwartz’s play likely inspired Anshul Manchanda ’04, who beat another Williams All-American, 12-ranked Parth Doshi, on Friday.
“[Manchanda] has a ton of skill,” Grote said. “We haven’t seen [play like] that out of Anshul ever.”
Manchanda, Yale’s number one, agreed with Grote’s assessment, saying that he had improved significantly over last year, becoming more aggressive.
“A lot of the game is mental, and that’s where I hadn’t been doing well,” he said. “It just wasn’t coming together, and it came together for me this weekend.”
Grote said that the wins, along with the inspiring play of Manchanda and Schwartz, have made his team confident as it looks to travel to No. 4 Princeton (4-0, 2-0 Ivy) in two weeks for what promises to be a competitive and important game.
“We are more confident going into Princeton than we have been in the four years that I have been here,” he said.