For all intents and purposes, this weekend’s USSRA Championship is nothing more than a warm-up for men’s squash team.
The Bulldogs travel to Hartford on Friday for the championship, a five-man team tournament in which the Elis will be competing against teams from Harvard, Trinity and Princeton, among other schools. Although the tournament is not officially associated with collegiate squash, the high level of competition will give the Bulldogs one last chance to get a couple more matches under their belts and tune up their skills before the CSA Team Championships in Cambridge, Mass. on Feb. 25.
“We’re just trying to work on our match toughness and match sharpness and getting used to playing matches in different places,” Julian Illingworth ’06 said.
Chris Wyant ’05 agreed, saying the Bulldogs will be playing pressure-free this weekend.
“There aren’t the normal repercussions of college squash,” Wyant said. “It doesn’t really matter if we win or lose. We’re not playing for an Ivy League or national championship. It’s just playing squash.”
Wins will not come easily for the Bulldogs this weekend. In addition to the competitiveness of the field, Illingworth said it will be particularly challenging for the Elis because of the five-man team structure of the tourney.
“It actually should be really tough for us because our strength is our depth,” Illingworth said. “So, our top five is probably going to have a tough time against Trinity’s top five.”
The Bulldogs have added motivation to play well at the USSRAs because of the disappointing 6-3 loss to the Cantabs last weekend, Wyant said.
“It’s a good way for us to prepare for the national championships,” Wyant said. “We lost a heartbreaker to Harvard and we’re looking to rebound and get ready for the championships.”
Illingworth expressed similar sentiments.
“The team’s not feeling great about the season as a whole,” he said. “If we beat Harvard [in the CSA championship] we’ll definitely feel much better about ourselves.”