The members of the men’s squash team took the first steps toward a successful 2002-2003 campaign this past weekend at the Ivy Scrimmages. The annual preseason tournament included strong teams from each of the Ivy League schools.
“This was an exciting weekend for the team, as four freshmen were added to the lineup, and the squad was anxious for competition,” said head men’s and women’s squash coach Scott Stoneburgh.
The excitement was palpable from the first points of the fifth-seeded Red’s initial team match versus fourth-seeded Dartmouth. Cornell dominated the Green, winning eight of the nine matches. Revenge from last season’s playoff loss was exacted mercilessly, as Dartmouth managed to take only five total games.
“We had a lot of nervous energy with such a young group of players, but the quality of the squash that was seen did not show it,” said Stoneburgh.
“Nothing feels better than dismantling Dartmouth,” said senior Tim Nagel.
As was expected, the Red faced the juggernaut Princeton Tigers in the second round. Seeded first at the tournament, Princeton returned from the off-season with virtually the same personnel that won the Ivy League last year and finished second in the nation. The Tigers triumphed over Cornell 9-0, despite the Red’s best efforts. The lopsided score did not reflect the mettle of the Cornell players, as three of the matches went to decisive fifth games.
“In a year or so, we can take them,” said freshman Ben Bernstein. “Right now, though, they’re a little too strong. They’ve got a lot of seniors with a lot of experience.”
“We were anxious to prove ourselves and came out swinging,” said Stoneburgh. “We had some fierce battles.”
The ferocity of the men’s team was tested in the third match of the day against Harvard. At this high level of squash, the matches are extremely intense. Players are usually asked to play no more that one match in a day.
“It’s hard to play three [matches],” said Bernstein. “You beat yourself up playing at this level; your body just won’t allow you to do your best after two matches.”
The beleaguered Red fell to the Crimson, 8-1. Still, there was a ray of hope. Junior Brad Mosier’s victory in his match was the first win by any Cornell player against Harvard in four years. Seniors Neal Soo, Jeff Porter, and Kenny Greer were mere points away from their own victories.
“Harvard is definitely a team we can beat, especially when we’re not so tired,” said sophomore Mike Delany. “I can’t wait to face them in the regular season.”
On Sunday, the individual matches provided a warning to the rest of the Ivy League. There were nine brackets and Cornell players Delany, Bernstein, and Jeff Porter dominated three of them.
“This was a great weekend,” said Bernstein. “We showed the Ivy League that we’re on a different level from last year.”
“Our boys have the determination it takes to keep fighting when others throw in the towel,” said Stoneburgh.
The Red travels to Penn on Nov. 23 for its first match of the regular season.
Archived article by Per Ostman