In a bittersweet night for Yale squash at Harvard, the men’s team defied 54 years of history with a victory over the host, but the women lost their bid for the Ivy League title.
Both matches came down to the No. 1 position. For the women’s team (9-3, 5-1 Ivy), Michelle Quibell ’06 lost in a tight match to Harvard’s Louisa Hall, who delivered the Cantabs (8-2, 6-0) their third straight Ivy League championship. Julian Illingworth ’06 came through in the clutch for the men, winning in four games to seal the victory.
On the men’s side, the Bulldogs’ (17-2, 5-1) victory over the Crimson (6-3, 4-2) was Yale’s first win in Cambridge, Mass., since 1949.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Chris Olsen ’03, who lost at position No. 5 to Isaac Whitman in three games. “To finally beat them up here is a huge accomplishment.”
With the match knotted at four a piece with one left to be played, Illingworth won it for the Bulldogs at the No. 1 position.
Illingworth was in a similar position Feb. 1 against Princeton, but he lost in five games to Yasser El-Halaby.
But history did not repeat itself last night.
“Everyone had confidence that we wouldn’t want anyone else but Julian [Illingworth] to close it out for us,” Josh Schwartz ’05 said.
After dropping the first game, Illingworth stormed back to win the next three, defeating Harvard’s own freshman phenom Will Broadbent 7-9, 9-5, 9-3, 9-5.
“I was playing too defensively and needed to play more aggressive, but I was still confident I was going to win,” Illingworth said.
Yale’s No. 6 through No. 9 players — Aftab Mathur ’03, Gavin Cumberbatch ’05, Ryan Byrnes ’04 and Trevor Rees ’06 — all won.
“No question, the personality of our team comes down to our depth,” Schwartz said. “They were huge for us tonight.”
The victory was especially meaningful for Yale head coach Dave Talbott, who was visibly moved after the match, Schwartz said.
Despite Ivy League and national championships on his resume in 20 seasons of coaching at Yale, last night’s victory was the first for Talbott at Harvard.
“Being able to give him his first win at Harvard was a very emotional experience,” Schwartz said.
Last night’s victory will likely give Yale a No. 3 national ranking, potentially setting up a rematch with Princeton this weekend in the the NISRA national championship, to be played on the Tigers’ home courts.
“It’s huge, everyone wants a second shot,” Olsen said.
For the women’s squad, heading into the match for the Ivy League championship, the Bulldogs had momentum coming off an 8-1 victory over the then-nationally ranked No. 2 Cantabs in last weekend’s Howe Cup. That momentum was not enough; the Elis fell 5-4.
Frances Ho ’05, Rachita Vora ’06, Gina Wilkinson ’03, and Sarah Coleman ’05 provided the wins for Yale at positions No. 3 to No. 6, respectively.
With the match tied at four, Quibell could not pull out the victory and lost to Hall 10-8, 0-9, 6-9, 8-10.