The men’s squash team entered the season with high hopes, but despite their undefeated record and strong play, they remain ranked where they started — No. 3 in the nation. Tonight, the Elis can change that. But it won’t be easy. The Bulldogs will travel to Hartford for a 7 p.m. showdown with No. 1 Trinity College, a team that has won six national championships in a row.
The Bantams are the Darth Vader of the collegiate squash world. They have crushed all opposition in recent history, winning 112 consecutive matches dating back to the 1997-98 season.
The Elis, however, have a new hope. Last year, they gave the Bantams a major challenge. Even though they lost 6-3, the Bulldogs came closer to beating Trinity than they had in years. This season, the Bulldogs roll into Connecticut’s capital with an improved team and the momentum of an undefeated season behind them.
“We lost to them 6-3 last year, but we have gotten deeper and they lost a few key players,” Nick Chirls ’07 said. “So we think we can do it and we are all very focused for the match on Wednesday.”
Chris Wyant ’05 remembers how tough Trinity has been over the course of his career, but remains optimistic about the Elis’ chances.
“The first two years I played against them, we were just happy to win a game or two,” Wyant said. “Last year was the first time we really gave them a scare. So we have high hopes for this year.”
Trinity’s lineup features six of the nation’s 25 top squash players, but none of them are ranked higher than No. 3 Julian Illingworth ’06. Call him Yale’s Luke Skywalker. Illingworth hasn’t lost a match all season, and looks to continue his success against the Bantams.
“Trinity is a formidable opponent but they lost three crucial players last year and our team is improved,” Nick Schwartz ’05 said. “They still are very strong top to bottom, but this year I think that we can win at any spot from one to nine if people can step up and play to their full potential.”
So far this year, the Bulldogs have matched the Bantams’ scorching pace. Both teams are undefeated, and the Elis are looking especially strong after last weekend’s victories. Yale shut out squash powerhouse University of Western Ontario and dominated Cornell, winning the matches 9-0 and 8-1, respectively.
After their showdown with the Bantams, the Bulldogs will return to New Haven to face Princeton on Saturday at the Brady Squash Center. But for now, the focus is on Trinity, and the Elis are enthusiastic about their chances, Captain Gavin Cumberbatch ’05 said.
“The team is definitely psyched and looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “This is the strongest team Yale has put forward since I’ve been here and we are heading to Hartford knowing that we have nothing to lose and all to gain, so we are going to enter the courts with confidence and hopefully walk away with a ‘W’.”