Going into the year-end CSA national championships, the Cornell men’s squash team had defeated only two of their potential seven opponents and faced a daunting uphill battle. While the Red only came away with one victory from the three matches, its lone win not only earned the team redemption from an early season loss, but also propelled it to a sixth place finish.
“Overall it was a great team effort,” said head coach Mark Devoy. “In some ways it was a little disappointing, but when you end the season higher [in the rankings] than you started, you can’t complain too much.”
The Red entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed, an achievement which earned it a spot in the tournament’s top draw — the Potter Division. Unfortunately for the Red, that meant a Friday date with second-seeded Harvard, whose only loss this entire season came to the top team in the country.
Much as it had done in the two teams’ previous meeting, the Red fought hard throughout the lineup, but could not steal a victory from the Crimson.
The Red’s loss dropped the team into the consolation bracket, which meant a rematch with rivals Western Ontario, who had narrowly defeated the Red during the season. Evidently unfazed by its loss the day before, the Red came out with intensity and emerged as the victors by a count of 5-4.
“It was the match we needed to win,” Devoy said. “We played in a bunch of close matches again, but this time they went in our favor and it all worked out.”
The Red started out the match with momentum fueled by a win from sophomore Rohit Gupta, but quickly fell behind as the other two players on the courts dropped hard-fought matches. The Red caught up quickly, however, as juniors Brad Mosier and William Cheng earned four and five set wins respectively.
“[Cheng] gave us all a scare after his opponent tied up the match 2-2,” Devoy said. “But he came back and won the last set and really put us in good position.”
The Red received another scare shortly thereafter when junior Ben Bernstein was forced to retire with a leg injury. The loss gave Western Ontario a 4-3 lead and meant the Red would be forced to win the final two matches of the day to claim victory. Junior Nick Raho did his part by leveling the match at 4-4 with a 3-0 win.
“[Raho] really had a good win,” Devoy said. “He won so convincingly and brought us back within reach.”
Raho’s win meant that victory rested on the shoulders of No. 1 starter, junior Matt Serediak. Fighting an ankle injury, Serediak battled to a three set victory and sealed the win for the Red.
“He played the match of his life,” Devoy said. “We had to really get him primed up for the match because of the injury, but it was the best I’d seen him play all year.”
The Red’s victory led to a meeting with fourth-ranked Penn and a chance to finish fifth in the national rankings. Once again in the underdog role, the Red came out and won two of the first three matches. Senior Mike Delany highlighted the Red’s victories by winning a four set match in his final collegiate contest.
“It was really a great finish for him,” Devoy said. “Not only did he win his last match at Cornell, but he also helped us move up in the rankings.”
Still fighting injuries from the day before, the rest of the Red’s lineup could not match the team’s early success, and it fell by a count of 7-2.
“I’m proud of how we played this weekend,” Devoy said. “All the matches didn’t quite go our way, but we’ve got to save some wins for next year.”
Archived article by Matt Gorman
Sun Staff Writer