This weekend, the Cornell men’s squash side achieved sixth place in the Men’s National Team Championship, the Potter Cup, with a victory over Rochester, sandwiched between fighting displays against Trinity and St. Lawrence. The Red finished the tournament one spot above its national No. 7 seeding. Harvard came out of the tournament as eventual winners.
“We missed an opportunity, but overall picked up a lot better finish than we did last year. Looking back at the weekend now, we did fine. We set off to get No. 8 and got No. 6,” said Head Coach Mark Devoy. “We missed an opportunity to move up another spot but that wasn’t to be. Overall it was quite good, especially considering we were missing our No. 3 order. We achieved a good result without him and the team stepped up.”
The Red fell to eventual finalists Trinity, 6-3, in the quarterfinal despite seniors Nick Sachvie, Rishi Jalan and junior Rishi Jalan winning in the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 6 order.
“We were competitive against [Trinity]. … We had some close matches, we had some chances. So we went into that game positively. … Trinity was a bit of a reach.” Devoy said. “Out of the whole weekend, Trinity got through to the finals and besides them getting beaten by Harvard, we got the closest to all of them.”
Cornell proceeded to clinch a surprise victory, 5-4, over No. 6 Rochester in a semifinal clash that featured four five-game contests. The Red produced a strong bottom order with sophomores Graham Dietz, Abhijit Malik and freshman Harry Freeman winning all their matches to set up a fifth place showdown against St. Lawrence.
“The mission was to get everyone fired up for Rochester. We knew it was going to be a tight game and we did that. We took that win, so that was good.” Devoy said.
The Red ended its campaign on the losing end of another 5-4 decision, this time to St. Lawrence. Jagtap was integral to the squad’s success, completing a perfect thee-nil weekend with a victory over St. Lawrence’s Ibrahim Khan. Keating, Freeman and sophomore Gustav Runersjö helping Cornell to notch another victory under its belt.
“[The loss] was disappointing but we had a couple of close matches that we didn’t quite clinch. It’s a big ask to get everyone performing for three tough matches in a row. We’ve struggled with that this season, getting everyone performing over a three or four match weekend.” Devoy said. “There are new guys on the team and its sort of a learning curve for them. I think it sort of has been a good experience for them.”
Keating was keen to highlight the positives from Cornell’s season.
“I guess we wanted to get top four in the nation, we ended up getting six but I think in terms of the camaraderie we developed by the end of the season, in terms of that it was a huge success.” Keating said,
The Red has its top order to thank for most of its success this season, with Jagtap and Sachvie recording a 25-9 record at No. 1 and No. 2 throughout the season.
“Jagtap played very well [throughout] the weekend. Nick Sacvhie wasn’t quite at his best. … I’ve seen him play better weekends, but he’s still anchoring the top of the team, so it wasn’t like he was outclassed at all.” Devoy said. “I had a very good top order, losing the three didn’t help but with the team we haven’t quite got the depth in the middle, but I’ve also got to get the bottom order to play more consistently.”
Devoy was overall pleased with the outcomes of this season, believing that the foundation has been laid for a better, stronger and younger team in the future.
“The whole idea next year is to get more depth in the middle order. We’ve got a reasonably solid recruiting class for next year so I’m looking forward to next season,” he said. “We finished on a good note and I’d like to continue that. The team got a lot of experience, particularly some of the younger players.”
The men’s team will now gear up for the individual squash championships while the women’s team prepares for its own national championships, to be played in the coming weekend.