After losing nine of its previous 10 matches, as well as the last five entering the CSA National Championship Tournament, the Cornell men’s squash team was facing an uphill battle in order to win the coveted Hoehn Cup.
In the first round, the Red, who came into the bracket ranked No. 14, faced Navy and came away victorious. The men only dropped one match to the Midshipmen en route to a second round rematch with Ivy foe Princeton.
“The result against Navy was both great on paper, and also in the way we played,” said junior Jordan Brail. “It created a lot of excitement and hope that we could repeat that performance again when we played Princeton because honestly it was one of the best matches that we played all season.”
In the previous matchup with Princeton just one week prior to nationals, the Tigers defeated the Red in Ithaca by a score of 6-3.
In the national championships, Cornell was not able to avenge its previous loss, dropping a 7-2 decision in the semifinals of the Hoehn Cup, awarded to the best team ranked ninth through 16. Sophomore Perry Hanson and senior Augie Jones were the only two Cornell starters who were able to pick up victories in the defeat.
In the consolation match for 11th, the Red ended its team season with a 6-3 defeat at the hands of George Washington. Just like with Princeton, the Colonials defeated Cornell 5-4 earlier this season.
Against GW, Hanson picked up his third win of the weekend, and senior captain Harry Freeman clinched a victory in the first position in the final collegiate team match of his career. With the loss, Cornell finished 12th in the tournament.
“I was very proud of Freeman, because even though the overall match was decided, he was the last one on court and finished his match nicely to win the last match of his college career,” said head coach David Palmer.
However, Freeman, along with sophomore Andy Muran and potentially senior Augie Jones, will continue their seasons following a week off when they compete in the individual championships from March 3-5.
Whereas the men just ended their team play for the year, the women are training to secure some hardware at nationals this coming weekend.
Despite losing each of its last three matches — all of which came face-to-face with top-four nationally ranked teams — the women’s squash team comes into nationals ranked seventh, and is facing second-seeded Penn in the first round of the tournament.
“Last time we played Penn, everyone played really well,” said junior Emma Uible. “Even though we lost, everyone was happy with our performance. We got a great draw, and we have a good chance of beating anyone we will play.”
The Quakers blanked the Red last meeting, 9-0, but Cornell is looking to pull off the upset when the team faces Penn nationals held in Princeton this weekend.
“The girls are very familiar with who they are playing, and they will probably not be as intimidated when they face Penn this time,” Palmer said. “So, for us, [playing Penn before] is definitely an advantage. We will go in, have fun, and ultimately, you never know what can happen.”
The winner of the Cornell-Penn match will face the winner of the Trinity-Stanford match in the semifinals of the tournament. Earlier this year, the Bantams defeated the Red 9-0, and a few weeks later, Stanford topped Cornell 7-2 in New York City.
However, the match against Stanford was played just hours after facing archrival Columbia, so the Red believes that if able to face the Cardinal again, the team would be capable of defeating Stanford with rest.
A week after the team championships, senior Rachel Scherman and junior Michèle Garceau will compete in the individual championships, and Uible and junior Charlotte Knaggs could participate as well.
Action for the women gets underway this Friday at noon.