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This past Saturday, Yale men’s squash captain Spencer Lovejoy ’20 played arguably the biggest match of his career.

The U.S. Open Squash Championships is a platinum level event, among the most prestigious and demanding competitions on the PSA World Tour. There, Lovejoy, who is currently ranked 143 in the world, competed among some of the sport’s top talent.

After receiving a wildcard spot for the first round, Lovejoy faced Egypt’s World No. 21 Mazen Hesham. While Lovejoy gave a commendable performance, Hesham emerged with the win in three games, with scores 11–4, 11–3 and 11–9.

“I could see the fire in him … He kept improving as the match went on and he kept fighting. I’m really glad to be able to close it out in three,” Hesham said to PSA media after his win.

The event drew a large crowd, with at least 1,000 spectators piling into the Daskalakis Athletic Center at Drexel University’s campus in Philadelphia for the tournament.

Lovejoy spoke of the heightened importance of mental strength to elite competition.

“Once you get to a certain level, everyone is physically strong and everyone can hit the ball well, and when you go to the big stage it really comes down to, I think, more mental abilities,” Lovejoy said.

Despite falling short in the contest, Yale’s captain surpassed expectations with his play at the biggest American tournament on the schedule.

At Yale, Lovejoy has enjoyed a spectacular rise in the squash world. He has climbed 171 spots in the world rankings over the past three years and largely credited the team for his progress.

“All the guys on the team are really supportive of my pro career,” Lovejoy said. “They were all watching on TV on campus, a couple of them came down to Philadelphia to watch — my coaches were there watching too. It’s really nice to have a team of people who are very supportive of you, which is something that is very important for confidence and for feeling comfortable about your game.”

On top of his stellar on-court performance, the Branford, Connecticut native’s guidance has proved essential to younger players on the team.

First years Jed Burde ’23 and Janson Chu ’23 both highlighted his vocal style of leadership on and off the court.

“Spence is no doubt the hardest working player on the team,” Chu said, emphasizing Lovejoy’s training regimen, which includes two daily practice sessions.

While he does have plans for a future in professional squash, Lovejoy’s priority is still success with the Yale men’s team.

“My focus is still on the team, and on the team nationals and the individual nationals at the end of the year, so I can finish off my college career strong and I’ll have plenty of time to play the pro tour after this,” Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy won his first career PSA title at the Men’s Lifetime Mississauga Open in Canada in June.

Matthew Cline | matthew.cline@yale.edu