February 28, 2003

Squashers Fly Solo at Nationals

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The final test in the collegiate squash season begins today on the courts of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. The National Squash Individual Championship Tournament culls the top 64 men’s and women’s players in nation to compete outside the umbrella of their respective teams for the first time all season.

Players are invited to the tournament based on their national collegiate ranking; some players are unseeded due to the withdrawals of other seeded qualifiers.

The tournament is broken down into two brackets of 32 participants for both the men’s and the women’s draws. The top group (Pool Division for men, Ramsey Cup for women) plays for the national championship while the lower group (Malloy Division for men, Holleran Cup for women) essentially plays for 33rd place. Two rounds will be played today, another two tomorrow, with the finals taking place on Sunday.

Two women and three men from the East Hill will see action in Hartford — freshmen Matt Serediak, Ben Bernstein, and Cory Warfield, as well as sophomores Mike Delany and Brooke Stetson. Warfield and Stetson are unranked qualifiers for the Holleran Cup; Bernstein is ranked No. 1 in the Malloy Division. Also in the Malloy bracket is the unseeded Delany, considered by many to be the dark horse of the draw.

“Mike’s had such a strong season this year, but no one really knows about him,” said senior teammate Tim Nagel. “He’s come in under the radar and he’s going to shock some people.”

Nagel qualified for this weekend’s tournament, but withdrew due to illness.

The lone Cornellian in the upper half of a draw is Serediak, the eighth seed in the Pool Division. This is the highest a Red player has been ranked in several years. In the first round, Serediak will face Carl Baglio, the No. 25 seed from Trinity. He has a long hard road to get to the finals with a possible quarterfinals match with No. 1 seed Yasser El-Hallabi, the freshman star of the Princeton squad. Hallabi is favored to win the tournament; before coming to Princeton, the Egyptian was as high as No. 67 in the world professional rankings.

“I’m looking forward to a good test of my skills,” said Serediak. “We’ll see how I stack up against the rest of the country.”

Archived article by Per Ostman