Other than its loss to No. 1 Trinity on Jan. 14, the No. 3 men’s squash team has been unbeatable this year. Yale (14-1, 3-0 Ivy) has been seriously challenged in just one other match, a 5-4 victory against No. 5 Williams, which it routed convincingly last weekend, 8-1. And thus far, only Williams and Trinity have been able to muster more than one victory against the young, talented Bulldogs.
Yale received yet another boost of confidence Saturday as the team easily dominated No. 12 Navy, 9-0.
Despite the fact that Navy (10-3) is normally no pushover, having won its past six matches, Yale head coach David Talbott said that he had expected the one-sided result.
“Their top four or five kids are competitive,” he said.
And of David Haile, the only Midshipman to win a game, Talbott added, “The kid played well.”
Despite Haile’s rather lonely win in his third game against Yale captain Peter Grote ’02, Grote defeated the junior handily, 3-1 (9-5, 9-4, 8-9, 9-4). All eight other Bulldogs swept their matches, including Albert McCrery ’05 who, playing in the number nine spot, only allowed one point against his Navy foe, Bill Schmermund.
Yale’s number one, Anshul Manchanda ’04, turned out yet another dominating performance, defeating Edson Greenwood, 3-0 (9-0, 9-2, 9-2).
Grote moved up to the number three spot for the match, after spending much of the season at the five and six spots.
“I’m excited [about the change] because I’m playing closer to the level that I was at last year,” he said.
Talbott said the Yale senior will probably remain in that position when the Bulldogs enter what promises to be their most competitive match this season, visiting No. 4 Princeton (4-0, 2-0 Ivy) this Saturday.
Compounding the import of the game is the daunting fact that Yale has not won on Princeton’s concrete courts since 1990.
“We’ve been struggling down there,” Talbott said. “My prediction is that it’s going to be a 5-4 match, but we’d be disappointed with anything less than a win.”
To ready themselves for the change to Princeton’s slower courts, Talbott said he plans to have his team focus on drop shots as well as shot length in practice this week. But the 19-year veteran is also employing another trick: he’s dropped the temperature at the Brady Squash Center to try to make Yale’s wooden courts slower.
The Bulldogs will go hard in practice through Wednesday, as they battle one another in challenge matches for a spot in the starting nine. Talbott said that, along with Grote, Manchanda and Josh Schwartz ’05 would likely remain in their respective spots of one and two, but that the rest of his lineup for Princeton is yet undecided.
In all likelihood, Manchanda and Schwartz will face the No. 2 and No. 6 players in the nation respectively, David Yik and Will Evans.
“Right now we’re trying to figure out our best nine players,” Talbott said.
A win at Princeton is almost certainly a must if Yale hopes to accomplish its goal of winning the Ivy League championship, as the Bulldogs still have to face No. 2 Harvard at home on Feb. 20.