A large and rowdy crowd filled the Brady Squash Center this weekend, creating a noticeably energetic buzz for the final home Ivy match of the season.
Many in the audience did not come solely to watch Yale men’s squash trump Brown, as the matches were preceded by an exhibition of some of the nation’s best high school programs. Though there was much focus on the tournament that shared the courts with the Elis this weekend, any prep players who caught pieces of the Bulldog win witnessed true squash domination at the next level.
The Elis (11-3, 3-2 Ivy) won easily, dictating the pace of play on every court against Brown (1-7, 0-4) without giving up a single game in the 9-0 team victory. Despite a shuffle in the lineup, each player in the ladder controlled his match and sent the Bears back to Rhode Island with little effort. Brown doesn’t offer many challenges outside of No. 1 Dan Petrie, but even he fell to Nick Chirls ’07 for the second consecutive year in three straight games, losing 9-2, 9-5, 9-5. Francis Johnson ’09 moved up to No. 3 in the ladder for the first time this year and looked strong in upending Adam Greenberg, 9-0, 9-2, 9-0. Even the players who got bumped down a few rungs appeared comfortable in their new roles and displayed similar power and control in their wins.
“People prepared well,” No. 2 Max Samuel ’08 said. “We still have something to play for. We need to keep a solid seed for the team tournaments.”
Samuel said his team needs to continue to work on getting ready for matches. He said he recognizes the team is not always as prepared as it could be and the Elis’ youth — with six sophomores and freshmen in the top nine — no doubt plays a part in this.
The Bulldogs looked very focused in the match against the Bears, even after the disappointing loss last weekend to Princeton at home, which eliminated Yale from Ancient Eight championship contention.
“We knew [Brown] was not at the top of the Ivy, but they were talented,” Moshe Sarfaty ’08 said. “This is the story of the Ivy League, we have only three or four teams that are really good.”
The Elis will face one of those good teams in just two days when the squad heads north to Boston for the final match of the conference campaign. Harvard was undefeated before this week, when it lost to Trinity and Princeton in tight matches. The Tigers topped Yale 6-3 before going on to knock off the Cantabs by an identical score yesterday. Trinity had handily beaten the Bulldogs 9-0 on Jan. 23, but barely squeaked past Harvard, 5-4, a week later.
“I think we have a much better shot against Harvard than people think,” Samuel said. “I don’t think that they’re as good as the score [against Trinity] showed.”
The Bulldogs may go to the Bay State on Wednesday sporting the new lineup that debuted against Brown this past weekend.
“We’ve been playing a lot of challenge matches,” head coach Dave Talbott said. “We’ve decided we needed the guys to push each other.”
Talbott said he wants to make practice as competitive as possible by playing a lot of matches heading into Harvard and toughening the team up. He believes the time is right to catch the Crimson off guard following their devastating results from the last week.
Sarfaty said the challenge matches and the placement in the ladder is not important. He thinks the team is equally talented through the middle of the lineup and is capable of beating any opponent if the matchups work well. The Elis want to spoil the Cantabs’ season and feel they may have a shot after the two teams played a close match at the Ivy League Scrimmage in the fall, he said.
“It’s all about this week,” Sarfaty said. “Anything can happen.”