January 29, 2007

Men’s and Women’s Squash Both Go Winless on the Weekend

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Lacking some of its top players, both the men’s and women’s squash teams could not find success this weekend. After losing a bout, 6-3, against Amherst (5-5) on Saturday, the men (3-10, 0-5 Ivy) dropped an affair, 8-1, to Dartmouth (8-5, 1-2) yesterday, while the women (5-7, 0-5) fell to Dartmouth (10-3, 1-2) by the identical score.

For men’s coach Mark DeVoy, nagging injuries to his top-2 players forced him to rest Chrish Sachvie and Steven Peever, both freshmen. Sachvie, a top international junior prior to his arrival at Cornell, had been playing No. 1 singles all season. After two five-set matches last week against Yale and Williams, Sachvie strained a groin muscle. Coupled with lasting fatigue from a bout with mononucleosis over the winter recess, Sachvie was rested for the encounter. Peever, meanwhile, has been in and out of the hospital over the last week due to a mysterious virus.

“The absence of those two guys was crushing for the team,” DeVoy said. “They are important players, and we hope we can get them back in the next couple of weeks.”

With an opportunity to move up the order and play in the No. 1 slot, team captain Rohit Gupta stepped up to the challenge.

Against Amherst, Gupta took down Auloke Mathur in straight sets, before meeting Dartmouth senior Todd Wood yesterday. Gupta dropped the first two sets, 3-9 and 2-9, respectively. However, Gupta began to rally, sweeping the third set 9-0, and edging out the fourth set 9-6. With the match knotted up at 2 sets apiece, Wood retired from the match with an injury. The outcome was all the more surprising given Wood’s reputation for strong fitness.

“I started out the match pretty poorly … [but] I had really been running him around in the first two sets,” Gupta said. “Then, I really ran him around in the first few points of the third set … he really broke down and threw that set away.”

Already winded, Wood then put everything he had into the fourth set in an unsuccessful bid to close out the match. Gupta, a veteran player known for mixing up his shots and playing intelligently, turned the match around by sticking to his game plan and being patient.

“I realized I had to keep running him around [even if I was losing points] … it wasn’t about me being extra fit, but the way I played someone who is really fit,” he said.

The women’s team was also missing its No. 1 player, junior Mairin Barnes, against Dartmouth, because of a pulled hamstring. Freshman Liza Stokes provided the Red its only victory out of the fourth slot, winning a tight four-set encounter. It was the most promising result of the season for Stokes, who underwent knee surgery during winter recess.

The Red also received good performances from the other top players. Sophomore Alex Cornett lost in five sets, while freshman Annie Ritter continued her solid rookie season by losing in four. Rookie Rachel Wagner substituted for Barnes at No. 1, losing in a competitive three-set match.

“I was really pleased with the way my top-4 players played,” said women’s head coach Julee DeVoy. “The rest of the team only played O.K.”