Jenny Holleran, Jon Bernheimer Win National Championships
Harvard squash Coach Steve Piltch did not bring a mop to the men's or women's squash national championships this weekend, but his players managed to sweep the events anyway.
Captains Jenny Holleran and Jon Bernheimer each won individual national championships, as Harvard players swept the events for the first time since 1985.
"I couldn't be happier for the two of them," Piltch said. "It's a nice legacy for them to leave."
In the women's championships at Brown, Holleran defeated Yale's Berkeley Belknap, 15-12, 15-7, 11-15, 5-15, 17-16. In the men's draw, Bernheimer crushed Cyrus Mehta, 15-8, 15-2, 16-14.
Against Belknap, Holleran trailed, 14-11, in the decisive game. After crusading to a tie-breaker, the senior was faced with a match point at 16-16. Belknap was serving, but the winner of the final point would be national champion.
"Jenny decided to go for a dropvolley," sophomore Mary Greenhill said. "It's a very risky shot. It was one of those split-second decisions."
Piltch and Holleran agree that it might not have been a wise split- second decision, but they say the success ofthe dropshot was not lucky.
"She's practiced that shot for four years. Itwasn't a fluke," Piltch said. "But if she were anunderclassmen, we might be talking about her shotselection tomorrow."
"I blow it only 20 percent of the time [on thatshot]," Holleran said. "It was not a smart shot,though."
Holleran lost only two games in four matches toreach the semifinals of the 64-person field. Inthe semifinals, Holleran trailed Princeton's HopeMcKay, 12-15, 12-15, and 10-13, before grabbing atie-breaker in the third game and cruising in thefourth and fifth games by identical 15-10 counts.
That set up her rematch with Belknap, who haddefeated her, 3-0, just 10 days earlier at Yale.In New Haven, the Elis had insisted the teams playwith a softer ball.
"That ball totally threw off my timing,"Holleran said. "Also, I've been focusing on thistournament all year."
"Jenny was the scrap-master," sophomore CarrieCunningham said. "She was running for everything.She really wanted to win more."
While Holleran struggled for survival in herlast two matches, Bernheimer cruised past a fieldthat included the nation's top players with theexception of Penn's Ridolfo Rodriguez.
"The last three weeks, Jon's been tremendous,"said Piltch, whose player entered the tournamentas the fourth seed.
Bernheimer beat up Yale's Alex Dean, 3-0, toadvance to the quarterfinals, where he dispatchedWestern Ontario's Scott Nash in similar fashion.In the semifinals, Princeton's Chris Stevensshowcased Bernheimer's mortality, as he was ableto win one game.
But the finals were all Bernheimer, who sweptMehta, just after the Yale player had upsetteammate Jon Musto in the semifinals.
"I'm a little surprised to win it," Bernheimersaid. "I was on. Everything was working."
Both Holleran and Bernheimer hope to play someprofessional tournaments.
"Jenny's worked so hard," Bernheimer said. "Shereally deserves it."
"He works much harder than me," Holleran said."I'm sane, he's a madman.