Five members of the Harvard men's squash team participated in the United States Squash Racquets Association Men's Singles National Championship in Denver this weekend.
Meanwhile, five players on the Crimson women's squash team also competed in Denver in the USSRA tournament.
The three day tournament, which attracted top players from across the United States and Mexico, was slightly disappointing for the Crimson women. Three of the five players were knocked out of competition in first round play.
Co-Captain Diana Edge, the only player to advance beyond second-round competition, won the Consolation round of the tournament.
In the men's tourney, Co-Captain Russ Ball reached the finals before dropping a 3-2 decision to Scott Dulmage, Western Ontario's number-one player. Officially Ball lost to Dulmage in five games. But it was a pulled muscle that really did in the senior.
Ball suffered a pulled muscle in the third game, which limited his mobility and quickness.
After splitting the first two games, Ball jumped out to 9-5 and 13-11 leads in the third game. But Dulmage rebounded to tie the game at 13-13, sending the match into a tie-breaker, Dulmage rallied to win the next three points and the game.
Playing a courageous match, Ball captured the fourth game, setting up the fifth and final game for the championship.
"The guys played very well," Ball said. "It was of the toughest nationals I've been a part of during my four years here. It was a very good weekend for us."
"He could hardly move," said George Haines, a former coach of Ball's at Haverford High School. "If it weren't for that, he would have won the match. You could see him grimace after each point."
"It was the best, consistent squash I've ever played in my life," Ball said. "I've beaten all of these players before; it was just putting it all together in a weekend."
"He was just playing great squash," Harvard Coach Dave Fish said. "He was moving very well. He was cutting up all of his opponents."
Ball waltzed to the finals, dropping only one individual game and that was a tie-breaker. After dropping the first game, 17-15, to Western Ontario's number-two player, Marc Barber, Ball captured the next three games, 15-11, 15-10, 15-10.
The senior then crushed the nation's number-one player, Princeton's Jeff Stanley, in three games, 18-15, 15-12, 15-14. Stanley, who last week lost in three games to Harvard's Darius Pandole, has not won a game against Harvard since January.
Ball continued to cruise, recording a 15-10, 15-7, 15-5 decison over Tufts number-one player Rusty Hashim, and a 15-10, 15-3, 15-9 over Chris Spharr in the semifinals.
In his first round match, Harvard's Jack Colbourne recorded a 15-18, 15-8, 15-9, 10-15, 15-7 victory over Princeton's Craig Medvecky. Colbourne then dropped a 15-4, 12-15, 15-13, 17-16 to former Princeton player Lupe Evanwer.
Harvard's Jon Bernheimer lost a tough 15-11, 15-12, 15-12 decision to former number-two Princeton squash player Tom Shepard. Harvard's Jim Masland opened his draw with a victory over Pete Rosta but then dropped a 17-15, 15-9, 15-13 match to Hashim.
After receiving a first-round bye, Harvard's Darius Pandole crushed Bruce Haupteaur in straight-games. Pandole then met freshman sensation John Musto of Yale. Pandole recorded a hard-fought 9-15, 15-8, 15-8, 9-15, 15-12 victory.
Pandole then recorded a 15-13, 15-7, 16-17, 15-10 victory over Evanwer, before losing to Dulmage 6-15, 15-18, 16-15, 15-12, 15-10. Dulmage rallied from a match point deficit in the third game.
On the women's side, Edge--seeded sixth in the tournament--lost, 3-1, to number-one seed Alicia McConnell in the quarterfinals. Edge later went on to win the Feed-In Consolation, good for fifth place overall in the tournament.
"I thought it went well, although I was hoping to do a little bit better," Edge said. "There was a lot of tough competition."
Freshman Stephanie Clark had a tough draw and lost in first round play.
"I was very nervous, but it was the best experience," Clark said. "I was pretty down and out about getting out so early, but I wasn't as experienced as a lot of the players in their late 30's and early 40's."
Drawing the number one seed, McConnell ended the hopes of Hope Nichols with a 3-0 bashing. Emily Knowlton was the third Crimson player to be knocked out in the first round. Knowlton lost to Ginger Ponce de Leon in four games.
Jenny Holleran, the number two player for Harvard, played teammate Knowlton in the first round of play. Holleran later advanced to the second round before losing, 3-0, to Nancy Gengler.