The men’s squash team left the friendly confines of Yale’s Brady Squash Center for Ohio last weekend and returned from the Buckeye State with two dominant victories.
Despite the absence of the team’s four top players, the Bulldogs (14-2) dominated Ohio Wesleyan University and Denison University Feb. 8, winning 17 of 18 matches. The Elis regained momentum for tonight’s match against Brown University.
“It was a pretty incredible weekend,” said Gavin Cumberbatch ’05, who won both of his matches convincingly. “Our strength is in our depth, and guys stepped up and played well.”
The Elis were without their top four players: Julian Illingworth ’06, Anshul Manchanda ’04, Avner Geva ’06 and Josh Schwartz ’05.
The Ohio games have a reputation for being the team’s most fun road matches, so upperclassmen usually have priority in going, Illingworth said.
Illingworth was playing in a tournament in Westchester, N.Y., to qualify for the United States national team. Schwartz is also still battling a hamstring injury that has nagged him for one month.
Against the Denison Big Red, Yale won 8-1, losing its only match at No. 1, where Chris Olsen ’03 lost to nationally ranked No. 16 Javier Castilla in three games, 9-4, 9-2, 9-2.
The Elis continued to roll against the Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops, taking all nine matches.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Cumberbatch said. “It would have been nice if we had the whole group, but having a smaller number of players, we bonded more. We really got to appreciate what Yale squash means to us.”
The two victories came on the heels of a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Princeton University one week earlier in front of a packed house at the Brady Squash Center.
“It was important for us to regroup as a team,” A.J. McCrery ’04 said. “It’s given us a chance to get the loss off our minds and to get ourselves thinking about Harvard again.”
Before playing at Harvard Feb. 19, where Yale has not won since 1949, the Bulldogs face Brown tonight at home and travel to Amherst College Saturday. Brown’s visit tonight marks the last home match for this year’s batch of Yale seniors.
“You’ll see us come out with a lot of fire for the seniors,” McCrery said.
With the Elis heavily favored in their next two matches, the team’s main focus is Harvard. While Princeton’s 7-2 defeat of Harvard over the weekend erased any Eli hopes of a tie for the Ivy League championship, the season is far from over.
Following the regular season finale against Harvard, the Bulldogs will head to Princeton for the NISRA Team Championship Feb. 21 to Feb. 23, where they could potentially face a rematch with the Tigers.