After the women’s squash team took home its divisional title in the NISRA championships at Yale University last weekend, the men’s team (10-10, 1-5 Ivy) responded with a win of its own, taking the Hoehn Division (B) in dramatic fashion. The Red started off the weekend by beating Franklin and Marshall (13-11), then won consecutive, 5-4 decisions over Amherst (9-8) and Navy (24-8).
The Red was forced to summon all of its resolve in its come-from-behind-win in the final round, beating an inspired Navy team . Navy, which upset top-seeded Bates College in the semifinals to earn its firth finals berth since 1988, jumped to a 3-1 lead in the early going. Senior captain Rohit Gupta surprisingly went down to freshman Nils Mattsson, a player Gupta defeated 3-0 in Ithaca earlier this month.
“It looked pretty bleak for us at that point,” said Gupta, who played in his last match for the Red. “We knew there was no room for error.”
After junior Mike Gelinas posted a win at the #6 spot, freshman Chris Vernick upset Navy junior Chris Zipf to give the Red another win at the bottom of the order and tie the match at 3-3. Zipf, Navy’s 2006-2007 leader with 24 wins on the year, came in on a three-game winning streak.
“Gupta’s early loss added pressure to the rest of our players,” said head coach Mark Devoy. “It came down to last three matches and we needed to win two out of three to pull it out.”
Freshman #1 Chris Sachvie, who went 3-0 on the weekend, won in straight sets over Navy junior Tucker George to put the Red in the lead. Ultimately, the title hinged on Omar Mangalji’s match at vs. Navy senior Dan Hellier at the #7 spot.
The two split the first two games, 1-1, before Mangalji took over the match with his aggressive style of play, prevailing 3-1.
“Omar and Chris Sachvie were our most important players today,” said Devoy. “Omar, especially, played a close match against a very good opponent and won.”
The Red emphasized teamwork and confidence as the key to the comeback on Sunday.
“We really worked as a team in this match, and that’s why we won,” said Gupta. “Everybody’s head was in the game when it was quite easy to get down on ourselves…the whole team got together.”
Devoy echoed his captain’s analysis.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but because we played hard and maintained belief, we won a very close match,” he said.
The Red’s semifinal win over Amherst also came down to the last match. This time, senior Ted Hill raised his game to upset senior Stuart Landesberg in four sets at the #3 position. Landesberg had defeated teammate Andrew McReynolds in resounding fashion, 9-1, 9-1, 9-2, en route to Amherst’s victory over Cornell last month.
“Hill came out of nowhere to win that match, it was just unbelievable,” said Devoy. “It shows you what can happen when the pressure is on…it was one of the best wins of his career.”
The Red started the tournament by defeating #14 Franklin and Marshall, 7-2.
“As a very young team, the tournament was a great way for us to finish the season,” Devoy said.