Traveling over 300 miles to Cambridge, Mass. this past weekend, men’s squash competed in the College Squash Association national championships, a three day challenge and the last team competition for the Red this season.
Finishing the regular season with a 5-6 record and ranked No. 12 nationally, Cornell attempted to improve its team standings with a chance to win the Hoehn Cup at the end of the weekend.
While the Red ultimately did not come home with the championship title, it did win two of its three games, putting the team in second-place for the competition. This success moved Cornell in the national rankings up two places, from No. 12 to No. 10.
The first day of the championships ended favorably for the Red, as it was able to narrowly clinch a victory over No. 13 Franklin & Marshall College. Head coach David Palmer preemptively strategized with the team to ensure that in a close game, the players would be able to tally a win.
“I’m trying to get the guys to relax a bit, and when we get close to winning or get to match point to really focus on making sure they win it at the first attempt,” he said.
With an overall score of 5-4 in the team’s first match of the weekend, Palmer’s strategy proved successful. Out of the five team points won by the Red, three were easy victories. The other two, however, came in the form of a four-set run by senior Jared Scherl and a five-set run by freshman Veer Chotrani. Chotrani, having lost the first two sets of his match, was able to emerge victorious from his setback.
“I was very happy and proud of the boys and how we stuck with it,” Palmer said. “The boys really stayed calm and focused, and in the end we got it done.”
Following the momentum of the first day’s win, the Red prepared to take on No. 9 Dartmouth on day two. After losing to Dartmouth 3-6 in the regular season, Cornell turned the tides and toppled its opponents with a 6-3 win moving toward the Hoehn Cup title. By the end of the weekend, Dartmouth had fallen to No. 12, nationally.
The Red’s progress toward the Cup slowed down as its third opponent, Columbia, proved to be up for a long fight. Four of the second day’s nine total matches went to five games, in which three of those spanned over an hour in run time. Sophomore Nicolas Göth Errington was able to overcome a two-game starting deficit against his opponent, winning the last three games of his match, which was a 71-minutes long marathon.
Chotrani and Errington were able to boast an undefeated 3-0 weekend, winning each match that they competed in, including multiple four or five game matches throughout the three days.
Unfortunately, the taxing final match of the weekend against No. 10 Columbia resulted in a 4-3 loss for the Red. Cornell’s final two matches against the Lions had unreported scores. Columbia was able to secure three wins over the weekend, allowing it to claim the Hoehn Cup over Cornell, which went 2-1. The Lions had never taken this championship title before.
On Feb. 20, Chotrani was unanimously named to the All-Ivy League squash team, and was additionally awarded the title of “Ivy League Rookie of the Year.” During his first season with the Red, he competed at the number one position in the lineup, with an 8-7 record overall. Historically, the Red has seen only one other Ivy League Rookie of the Year winner and Chotrani is the first All-Ivy selection since 2015.
Looking ahead for Cornell squash, select members of the women’s and men’s teams will be competing at the College Squash Association’s Individual Championships from March 6 to 8 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Squash Center.
Palmer anticipates that four or five members of the women’s team and three or four members of the men’s team will be traveling to the individual championships, with support from a number of underclassmen on the team hoping to gain extra experience.