For Harvard athletes, there are often big wins against other collegiate and Ivy League teams.
But did you ever think you'd have big wins against professionals?
The Harvard men's squash team just returned from competing in the U.S. Squash Racquets National 5-Man Tournament, a competition in which it captured the championship. The tournament included not only college teams, but also professional squads.
"We're very pleased," captain Tal Ben-Shachar Jr. '96 said. "We weren't seeded or expected to win, proving we were not only the top team in college but also on the pro level there."
Ben-Shachar also had a strong showing, beating a player who had recently been ranked as high as No. 25 in the world.
The teams were from around the nation at the Atlanta tournament, representing a state or a region of a state. Harvard beat Southern California in the semifinals to advance to the Finals, in which the Crimson beat Dallas.
The Dallas team was made up entirely of international players of several ages, a change for the Crimson.
"I didn't play an American all weekend," Andrew C. Walter '97 said. "Some of the players were even in their twenties and thirties."
Despite the age difference, their opponents certainly weren't lacking in the skill department.
"These players weren't as physically fit as they used to be," Ted Bruenner '96 said. "But mentally they are some of the best players we'll see."
Besides Ben-Shacher, Walter and Bruenner also had strong showings, neither of them losing a match.
"Andy [Walter] and I feed off each other when we play," Bruenner said. "We always room together and I guess are kind of the dynamic duo."
The tournament was the first time there wasn't a separate tournament for professionals and amateurs.
"Player for player, there were much better international players playing there," Ben-Shachar said. "But we played very well cohesively."
The Crimson's opponents were certainly not those usually seen in the Ivy League and were quite a new experience.
"Any tournament of several matches will help us," Walter said. "We do play in non-collegiate matches to keep us sharp, but it's always good to play people that you don't get to see every day."
Harvard also sent their No. 2 five-man squad to the tournament, and even they finished in the 9th-12th place bracket in the tournament.
Harvard's squash team also travels long distances regularly, trips that do nothing but help the squad.
Now practice is the only thing on the player's minds, as Harvard will have a month to train until its next matches against Princeton and Yale.
Yale played in the tournament, too, but also placed in the 9th-12th place bracket.
"It was definitely a strong showing for both teams," Walter said. "But we're not going to let it get us over-confident."