November 6, 2006

M. Squash Scrimmages Ivy Foes

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The men’s squash team began its season with a scrimmage this weekend at New Haven, Conn., with a win and two defeats.

The weekend began with an 8-1 loss to the host, Yale. However, the Red would later notch its first victory over longtime rival Brown by the same score, only to lose narrowly to Dartmouth, 5-4.

Although the scrimmages do not count towards record or league standings, they are an important measuring stick as teams attempt to establish how they stack up early in the Ivy League — perennially the most competitive squash conference in the nation.

For the Cornell squad, there were positives and negatives to take from the opener. The brightest sign was freshman Chris Sachvie, who was the only Red player to go 3-0 on the weekend. In his debut, Sachvie signaled not only that he will be an impressive addition at the No. 1 spot for the Red, but also that he can match up with some of the Ivy League’s best.

“Chris is a star in the making,” said junior Mike Gelinas. “He and Rohit Gupta played especially strong this weekend.”

The Red needs Sachvie and other inexperienced players to step up this season, as senior co-captains Ted Hill and Gupta, who went 2-1 on the weekend, are the only returning starters from 2005-06; particularly missed will be second-team All-American Matt Serediak ’06.

Another rookie, Chris Vernick, was unable to play due to injury. Gelinas identified his absence as an impacting factor in the scrimmages.

“[Vernick’s] our No. 4 player, so missing him was tough,” Gelinas said. “[But] we were pretty happy with the way things turned out.”

On the other hand, the Red, which finished last year ranked No. 9 in the nation, proved no match for preseason Ivy favorite Yale. Head coach Mark Devoy stated that one of his goals for 2006-07 is to maintain the ninth spot nationally, and it remains to be seen whether the young team can step up to the challenge.

The match was held at Yale’s Brady Squash Center, the site of the 2007 national championships. Gelinas noted that the atmosphere at the annual scrimmage is lighthearted and casual, making it a favorite for most players.

“This is a weekend that really sticks out on the schedule,” Gelinas said. “Most teams haven’t been practicing for more than two or three weeks, and coaches are experimenting with their lineups. … Squash is a very tight-knit sport, so a lot of us from the Ivy League schools are friends.”

At this particular scrimmage, the Red was happy with its result despite an overall losing record. The squad tempered its expectations going into the preseason event because of its youth, but it was pleasantly surprised in its latter two matches.

“The 8-1 win against Brown will really give us confidence when we play them this year,” Gelinas said. “The score with Dartmouth actually surprised us a little because they’ve had a very experienced team for a few years now.”

The Red starts its regular season in two weeks, traveling to Philadelphia for a three-match weekend.