February 22, 2010

M. Squash Retains No. 6 Rank

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The men’s squash team defended its No. 6 ranking at the CSA National Championships, which were held in New Haven, Conn., over the weekend. The Red started the tournament with a tough loss to third seed Rochester on Friday, but bounced back and managed to maintain sixth place. This was the ranking Cornell earned at Nationals last year, as well as the team’s rank by the end of the regular 2009-10 season.

“Obviously it wasn’t the result we were looking for,” said freshman Owen Butler. “Winning would have given the team the best result in history. But we all played well, and it was a good experience.”

Had the Red won, it would have automatically advanced to fourth in the national rankings –– the highest ranking ever earned by a Cornell squash team. Losing to Rochester meant that fourth place was no longer in the cards for Cornell. But despite these results, head coach Mark DeVoy said he was not at all disappointed in the team.

“We had our chances, but you can’t beg your team to do better than they can,” DeVoy said. “The team played very well, and I was very pleased with them. We were simply beaten by ability.”

Following Friday’s loss, the Red took on seventh-seeded Dartmouth in the consolation semi-finals on Saturday, winning, 7-2, to defend Cornell’s No. 6 rank.

“I think we did a good job of pumping ourselves up and mentally preparing for the Dartmouth match,” said junior Amar Gupta. “It was tough after losing to Rochester, but we started off with some wins [in the Dartmouth match] and this gave us momentum to finish strong.”

DeVoy agreed on the strong finish, specifically acknowledging the freshmen performances.

“I was a little bit worried about the Dartmouth match but we held our position and the freshmen really stepped up,” DeVoy said. “They [the freshmen] were all playing in really crucial positions where we need solid, reliable players, and they all played very well.”

Next, Cornell challenged Harvard (seeded fifth) in the consolation finals for fifth place. The Red lost to Harvard, 6-3, during the regular season and was looking for a different outcome this time. But Harvard again took home the victory. Cornell lost, 7-2, in a match that was much closer than the score reflects. Arjun Gupta won his match to go undefeated on the weekend, as did freshman Rishi Jalan. Cornell lost four of the remaining seven matches in five-game battles, and ended the tournament keeping its sixth-place ranking.

“It was exciting but disappointing at the same time,” DeVoy said. “The Harvard match could have gone either way. It went the wrong way, but that’s what sports are about.”

Although it didn’t achieve its original goal of a fourth-place ranking, the Red was satisfied with sixth place at the end of the tournament. The tournament marked the final team contest for Cornell in the 2009-10 season. Amar Gupta commented on the Red’s successful year.

“Even though we didn’t move up in the rankings, we came together as a team,” Gupta said. “We defended our rank and the freshmen gained valuable experience that will help us next year.”

Several of Cornell’s players will qualify for the CSA Individual Championship, which will take place on March 5 at Trinity College. The official list of the top 64 players in the nation will be released tomorrow, and these players will play for an individual title.

Original Author: Katie Schubauer