Winning one more Ivy League game in a given season might not be a huge step for most teams on this campus. Teams fluctuate up and down on a yearly basis, grabbing a few more games, losing a couple more, but in the grand scheme of things it all evens out right?
Not for men’s squash. Since the 1960s, the team has been relegated to the bottom half of the Ivies, finishing behind the incredibly strong trio of Harvard, Yale and Princeton each year. The three teams are almost always ranked in the top four in the country, forcing the men’s team to play second fiddle to its bigger brothers.
While all of this likely will not change in a single year, there is great optimism at the Belkin Squash Courts on the East Hill. Third-year head coach Scott Stoneburgh has turned a struggling program into a team that can compete nationally, and may begin taking some of the spotlight away from Harvard, Yale and Princeton, one match at a time.
Stoneburgh not only brings incredible squash experience and knowhow to the younger players on the team, but the coach brings an optimism and enthusiasm that is contagious.
Stoneburgh’s optimism is not without justification though. The squad finished tenth in the country last year and posted a winning record at 12-7 overall (2-4 Ivy).
“We think that this year, if we don’t end up in the top eight we’ll be very disappointed.” Stoneburgh commented. “I think with the potential of the team, we’ll end up anywhere from six to eight.”
On top of that, Stoneburgh believes his team has the ability to improve in the Ivy League again this year.
“We’re definitely not going to be satisfied with anything but .500 in the Ivies,” the coach noted. That would mean a 3-3 record, almost unheard of in men’s squash history.
Potential seems to be the buzzword at the new Belkin International Squash Courts with this team. Stoneburgh truly believes each one of his players has the opportunity to improve this season.
“The learning curve for everyone seems to be upward,” he said. “The guys are just playing better and better by the day.”
Transfers are fueling a great deal of the optimism for this year’s team. Sophomore Tim Nagle transferred from University of Toronto and should challenge senior Rajat Khanna for the top spot on the team.
“[Nagle’s] a great player, [he has] tons of experience and he’s brought a lot to the team,” said Stoneburgh. “I have huge expectations for him.”
Neal Soo, a sophomore transfer from Georgetown University, could also challenge for that top spot. The competition should help all three players improve their games for the difficult Ivy competition.
From there, the top five will be rounded out by sophomore Kenny Greer and classmate and co-captain Jeff Porter. Porter led the team with a 12-6 record last year. Down the ladder, juniors Chad Burkhardt and Darryl Chow, sophomore Tripper Heckscher and freshman Geoff Fong provide Stoneburgh with a deep and talented lineup.
Chow will be key for the Red, and his relative experience despite low ranking could make him one of the Red’s most pleasant surprises when he compiles his final record later this year. Good numbers out of him will help the squad win the games it feels it deserves to win. The other players will also need to be strong if the Red truly wishes to compete with the upper level member in the Ivies.
With such an emphasis on youth, the team could legitimately compete this year with the top triumvirate, as well as many years into the future. Then maybe, just maybe, the team could grab those last few elusive Ivy squash victories that would move them into the elite catagory in national competitions.
It certainly has the potential.
Archived article by Charles Persons