The men’s squash team opened its season of competitive play this weekend, as the Elis scrimmaged against Brown, Princeton, and Harvard at the Brady Squash Center. Although the Bulldogs handily defeated Brown and Princeton, they were unable to beat the 2004 Ivy League Champion Cantabs.

The Elis were encouraged by this weekend’s performance despite their 6-3 loss to Harvard.

“We have a much stronger freshman class than [Harvard] and we lost less important players then they did from last year,” Josh Schwartz ’05 said. “In order to win the title, it is only a matter of our team out-working Harvard the next four months. As long as we put in the time and prepare properly, the title is ours.”

In their other matches, the Bulldogs blanked Brown, cruising to a 9-0 victory over the Bears. The Elis also crushed Princeton, 7-2.

“There were some very impressive and gritty performances by members of the team that I think set the tone for the weekend and the upcoming season,” Gavin Cumberbatch ’05 said. “I was very pleased with the team’s performance over the past weekend, and after seeing the opposition I feel very confident about our chances to claim the Ivy League title this year.”

The Elis put in strong performances despite missing key players this weekend. Schwartz, who has played in the No. 2 spot on the team, is recovering from a back injury and won’t be back until February. Chris Wyant ’05 was also unable to play this weekend.

Head coach David Talbott had mixed feelings about the Bulldogs’ performance.

“The most important thing is we really learned what we have to work on,” Talbott said. “Our fitness as a team is not where it needs to be or the execution of our short game. This team is hungry, we have come in second three years in a row and we don’t want to again.”

The Bulldogs enter the 2004-05 season as the third-best team in the country. Last year, the Elis finished second to Harvard in the Ivy League and trailed only the Cantabs and Trinity College (Hartford) in the national rankings. Yale was bested by Princeton in the Ivy League the previous two seasons.

Even though Trinity has won the National Championship six years in a row and have been undefeated since the 1998-1999 season, compiling an 108-0 record in that span, the Elis still believe they have a real chance to beat both the Bantams and the Crimson and win it all.

“Our team goals are to win the Ivy League and a National Championship, nothing less,” Talbott said. “We have enough talent, we just need to maximize. Talent-wise, it’s the best team in many years overall with the top nine.”

The Bulldogs open the season at home on December 4 against Penn.