The Cornell men’s squash team, ranked No. 5 in the nation, is traveling to the National Championships at Harvard this weekend Feb. 25 to 27 to finish out its 2010-11 season. It is matched up to play No. 4 Rochester on Friday and if it wins, the Red will conclude the 2010-11 season fourth in the nation. The Red lost only four games this season, finishing with an overall record of 9-4.
“We have had a good season, we started the season at six [in the nation] and jumped up to five,” head coach Mark DeVoy said. “We did that beating Harvard for the second time in school history, and going into Nationals we are going to play Rochester, the fourth seed, which we narrowly lost to last week, 5-4, so the season is going well. We just have to finish it off well this weekend.”
Trinity, the undisputed champion of the college squash world, has finished first in the nation for the last twelve years. With an undefeated match streak of 239, it holds the record for the longest running winning streak in all of collegiate sports.
However, this year, the Red lost to Trinity by a score of only 6-3. The first, fourth, and eighth seeds won for Cornell. Sophomore Nick Sachvie defeated the No. 1 seeded Vikram Malhotra of Trinity in three games, 12-10, 11-6, 11-3.
“This is the closest we have ever gotten to Trinity. Normally we get blown up, 9-0, so 6-3 is very good, some of the losses were very close … also it is nice to have our No.1 Nick Sachvie knock down their No. 1, it shows progress against a top school,” DeVoy said.
Sophomore and the No. 1 player Nick Sachvie said, “Everyone was kind of scared of [Trinity]. We played them at home, which benefited us. Our team got really pumped, I wasn’t nervous at all, and I went out and played my best.”
Sachvie showed what a force to be reckoned with he was, loosing only three matches this season out of 13 to F&M, Princeton, and Trinity. Two of Sachvie’s losses occurred in the first two matches of the season and were Sachvie’s overall first matches playing college squash instead of international tournaments, so Sachvie believes his nerves got the best of him. In December of this year, Sachvie also won the U.S. Junior Open, beating Mexico’s Miled Zarazua to win first place.
Growing up in Canada, Sachvie started playing squash at four or five years old, entering in his first tournament at the age of seven. His sister Lauren Sachvie ’12 plays for the Red on the women’s team, and his brother Chris Sachvie ’10 was a former captain of the men’s team.
Finishing the season ranked 3rd in the nation, Sachvie is competing the weekend of March 4-6 at Dartmouth in the Individual National Championships, along with five other players who qualify from the Red’s team this year. Three or four of these players will qualify for the A division — the top division — and the others will compete in the B division. Sachvie will be one of the top seeds when the rankings come out later this week. Cornell has never had someone ranked that high in program history.
Sophomore and 6th seed Rishi Jalan said, “Nick, after winning the US Junior Squash Open during the winter break, has been playing very consistent squash. He is peaking at the right time before nationals and should make the first team all-American this year.”
As the season winds to a close resulting in 4th or 5th place in the nation for the team (depending on the events of nationals this weekend), DeVoy considers this to be the strongest men’s squash team Cornell has ever had, and believes that the success of this squad will push the squash program on an upward trajectory into next year.
“The good thing is we achieved our goal this year by taking the team up another level,” DeVoy said. “The intensity of workouts and training and expectations went up, and the new people coming in want to keep these rankings, so everybody is on board and will want to work even harder.”
Original Author: Nicole Wagner