Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” For the men’s squash team, that number may have been closer to 90 or 100 this weekend as the Bulldogs demolished their competition in the group’s most dominating road trip of the season.
Everything seems to be going right for the Elis in 2007. They managed to top their impressive performance in Maine two weeks ago, where they lost only one total court in a three-match series, by conceding no courts this weekend against Cornell, Hobart and Western Ontario.
The 27-0 run in upstate New York included two convincing Saturday victories. The Elis started the day with an Ivy League match against Cornell. The Big Red tested the top of Yale’s ladder, where captain Nick Chirls ’07, Max Samuel ’08 and Moshe Sarfaty ’08 were pushed by Cornell’s best talent. Those three courts proved the only real challenges of the weekend. The Bulldogs went on to easily upend Hobart in the second match of the day. The win included a collegiate career highlight for No. 7 Bill Hatch ’09, who defeated Andrew McDonough without giving up a single point in the contest.
“We were able to really keep up the intensity,” Francis Johnson ’09 said, “We were a lot healthier than we’ve been recently, and that helps.”
The Elis started the weekend with a 9-0 victory on Friday night against Western Ontario, a very different win than the 5-4 squeaker Yale escaped with last season. This year, the Mustangs managed to take only four games in the match and five Bulldogs put away their opponents 3-0.
“We felt we really came together mentally and were prepared,” Samuel said, “In matches early in the season, we didn’t come in with the attitude we needed.”
Head coach Dave Talbott said he believes this is the best his team has played all year. He said he sees the team peaking at the right time of the year and everyone playing up to their ability level.
As inferior competition gives way to the stalwarts on the schedule in coming weeks, the Bulldogs know wins will not come so effortlessly. Next on the calendar for the Bulldogs is Nutmeg State opponent Trinity. The Bantams are undefeated on the year, having lost only a single court in 10 matches and are the consensus No. 1 team in the nation. The Elis will get their first true test since early December when they travel to Hartford on Tuesday.
“We’re really in a no-lose situation,” said Talbott, “Everyone is going to play as hard they can, but we’re really just focused on the Ivies at this point.”
Trinity is notorious for drawing large crowds to their matches and creating an almost circus-like atmosphere; an additional element that visiting teams must contend with when traveling to the capital city.
“As a team, we just need to play to the best of our ability,” Samuel said, “We need to keep the fans out of our heads and focus on playing good, disciplined squash.”
Johnson said it is important for the team not to get down on itself and to maintain confidence. He said the Bulldogs will continue to focus on the things that have been working for them recently.
Even if Yale cannot manage a team win, it will be encouraging if the Elis could go north and pick up even a few games against Trinity. After several weekends of commanding squash, the team has reestablished a winning mind-set and must not let a potential setback against the Bantams ruin the momentum they have created over the past few weeks.