Years from now, the Cornell squash faithful may look back at 2002-2003, remembering it as the year that the men’s team made “The Jump.” This season, the Red is poised to make a resonating statement both in Ivy League squash and on the national scene. In recent times, the team has been one of the most successful on campus but has been unable to break through into the topmost tier of elite programs.
“We’ve been in the top eight [nationally] the past three years,” said head coach Scott Stoneburgh. “It’s been tough just sitting on that plateau, but the reckoning day has arrived.”
Matthew Serediak and his fellow classmates may turn out to be the catalyst that propels Cornell upwards into the rarefied air of the top four. Heralded as the best recruiting class in school history, these freshmen have worked their way into the top spots of the Cornell roster already. Serediak, playing at the No. 1 position, has been leading the Canadian Junior National team for some time. William Cheng, another Canadian by way of Hong Kong, is a steady No. 2.
“William is a star,” said Stoneburgh. “He can do things with the ball that I only wish I could.”
Ben Bernstein and Ben Stokes “share a work ethic that’s going to soak through the program” according to Stoneburgh, and along with homegrown talent Matt Greenberg, round out the young guns.
The planets certainly seem aligned for the Red onslaught, as both Harvard and Yale must travel to the East Hill this season on Dec. 7 and Jan. 18, respectively. Of the top teams, Cornell faces only Princeton away from the familiarity of the Belkin Squash Courts (The Red will not face Trinity in the regular season).
“We have the chance to show our true potential against Harvard,” said senior Dan Galbraith. “It’s going to be an epic match.”
It may well be an epic season for the Red, one of unlimited possibilities. There is a bond within the squad; the contrasting energies of youth and experience are combining to form something special.
“They’re all just great guys,” said Stoneburgh. “With a team full of guys like these, we can reach another level.”
The Women’s Team
On the women’s side, Stoneburgh is truly in the midst of a youth movement. This season is his first coaching the women, where he has been given the task of rebuilding the team.
“This season is going to be about working hard and the girls giving their best effort consistently,” said Stoneburgh.
The youth of the team may be a disadvantage in the 2002-2003 season, as the Ivy League ranks are stacked with experience. It is hard to predict how the team as a whole will react, as most of the players have yet to play a single point in a regular-season Ivy match. The Red will gain most of its experience against the women’s counterparts to the men’s grueling schedule.
“There aren’t as many women’s programs,” said Stoneburgh. “Since both teams travel together, the women are going to be thrown right into the fire against tougher, older teams.”
Though this season is sure to produce many growing pains, the women have confidence in themselves and their coach.
“Coach Stoneburgh has been nothing short of brilliant, inspiring, and truly human,” said freshman Marissa Greenwald. “The girls are a lively, happy, bonded group, with inspirational upperclassmen urging the freshmen to stick with it.”
“I have no doubt that the girls will keep working hard,” said Stoneburgh. “They’re highly motivated and I expect good things in the future.”
Archived article by Per Ostman