February 17, 2010

No. 6 Men’s Squash Plays for Championship

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This weekend, the men’s squash team, under head coach Mark DeVoy, will travel to New Haven, Conn., for the Collegiate Squash Association National Team Championships, hosted by Yale University. The Red (ranked No. 6 in the tournament) will play its first (and most critical) match against No. 3 Rochester.

The National tournament is divided into seven divisions –– A through G –– with eight teams in each. The top eight teams in the nation, including Cornell, will compete in the A division for the Potter Cup, awarded to the national champions. Also in this division are Rochester, Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, the University of Western Ontario, Yale and defending champion Trinity, which is looking to earn its 12th consecutive National title.

Cornell, whose 9-5 record is trumped only slightly by Rochester’s 9-2, seeks to kick off the tournament with a win against the Yellowjackets in the upcoming match tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. If the Red wins, it will play the winner of the other quarterfinal match (second-seeded Yale vs. seventh-seeded Dartmouth). However, the Red is concentrating solely on beating Rochester. A Cornell victory would automatically advance the team to fourth place nationally — the highest ranking earned by a squash team in Cornell history.

Junior captain McKay Claghorn described the pressure from knowing this fact as the team prepares for the tournament.

And beating Rochester regardless of the rankings would be quite a feat in itself for the Red. Only two weeks ago, Cornell lost to Rochester, 2-7, as the team’s regular season came to a close. Cornell’s only two victories came from Claghorn in the No. 9 spot and senior Chris Vernick at No. 8. Claghorn defeated Rochester’s Yohay Wakabayashi, 3-2, while Vernick won against Juan Pablo Galviria in a four-game match.

Although the score does not reflect it, most of the other matches were very close –– resulting in a three-and-a-half hour match as opposed to the typical two hours. DeVoy said he was pleased with the outcome.

“We got to get a good look at Rochester,” DeVoy said. “And having seen them I’d say our chances of beating them are quite good.”

Both DeVoy and Claghorn acknowledged their strength in the latter half of the lineup and said that Cornell’s strategy against Rochester will be to win those matches.

“We’re really strong at the bottom of the order,” Claghorn said. “We’re going to have to win a lot of matches down at the bottom.”

The team has spent the past week and a half getting itself into game mode and playing challenge matches against each other to determine the order of the lineup. The order stands as follows: Alex Domenick (No. 1), Chris Sachvie (No. 2), Arjun Gupta (No. 3), Thomas Spettigue (No. 4) David Hilton (No. 5), Rishi Jalan (No. 6), Amar Gupta (No. 7), Chris Vernick (No. 8), McKay Claghorn (No. 9) and Owen Butler (No. 10).

When asked whether the team was ready for the tournament, freshman Arjun Gupta, who will play in Cornell’s No. 3 spot, was very confident.

“We’re a little bit nervous,” Gupta said, “but we know we can pull out a win.”

In a mere three days, the tournament will have a winner and the men’s team will know whether or not it has made Cornell history.

Original Author: Katie Schubauer