Although last weekend’s College Squash Association tournament was supposed to be an individual event, the brackets ended up looking like a Yale practice session.
In the first CSA National Tournament hosted by the Naval Academy, all six Bulldogs in the Men’s B Division ended up playing a teammate before the end of the tournament. In the main bracket, Francis Johnson ’09 defeated freshman Naishadh Lalwani ’11 in a close five-game match to advance to the semifinals. Lalwani got off to a fast start, putting up a quick 2-0 lead, but Johnson managed to come back against the upstart freshman, handing Lalwani his first loss in nearly a month.
“It’s kind of funny to travel six hours to the Naval Academy, win your matches and then end up having to play your teammates,” Ethan Oetter ’09 said.
Johnson almost succeeded in his quest for another Potter Division Championship after winning the consolation finals last year, but was derailed by Harvard’s Richard Hill in a tight five-game match.
The four other Elis in the B division — Oetter, Todd Ruth ’10, Colin Campbell ’09 and captain Moshe Sarfaty ’08 — each won their first two matches to advance to the Round of 16 before being eliminated from the main bracket. In the quarterfinals of the consolation round, the brackets started to look more like a challenge match in Payne Whitney Gymnasium than a national tournament in Annapolis.
Oetter ended up drawing Ruth while Campbell faced off against Sarfaty. Ruth and Sarfaty took down their Eli counterparts to advance to the semifinals before bowing out. Despite the seeming oddity, the Bulldog captain was not the least surprised by the Elis’ overrepresentation in the final rounds of the consolation bracket.
“This is the story of our team this year,” Sarfaty said. “We’re pretty much at the same level and we all ended up finishing on the same level. I kind of expected it to happen.”
In the top division, Aaron Fuchs ’10, John Fulham ’11 and Max Samuel ’08 all lost on the first day. Fuchs fell 3-0 to Princeton’s David Letourneau while Fulham and Samuel were respectively defeated by Trinity players Manek Mathur and Parth Sharma. After dropping the first two games, 9-1 and 9-0, Fulham fought back in the third to take an 8-6 lead. An injury deprived the freshman of a comeback bid, forcing him to call for an unconventional single-point tiebreaker.
“I rolled my ankle in the second game, so in the third game I had to play through it,” Fulham said. “I wasn’t moving so well so I thought I had a better chance of winning the serve back and starting to end the game.
The Bulldogs were not the only team that faced off against each other on the courts. The Trinity Bantams, owners of the collegiate sports’ longest winning streak, at 183 games, turned both the main bracket and the consolation draw into challenge matches. Sophomore Baset Chaudry beat teammate Gustav Detter to clinch the national title while Andrea Vargas took down fellow Bantam Mathur en route to the consolation championship.
Trinity’s reliance on foreign-born players did not go unnoticed by the home crowd. An overflowing audience consisting of nearly 1,800 Midshipmen cheered on home-team favorite Tucker George with chants of “USA, USA.”
International players’ dominance in American squash was reflected in the final standings, too. Fulham was only one of two Americans to place in the top 20 in the country.