The No. 3 Harvard men’s squash team set up a showdown for the Ivy League title next weekend at Yale with wins over No. 4 Princeton and No. 8 Penn this weekend at the Murr Center.
However, things weren’t all positive for the Crimson (6-1, 5-0 Ivy), as sophomore intercollegiate No. 4 Will Broadbent was forced to retire from his match against Princeton’s defending intercollegiate champion Yasser El-Halaby after straining his LCL in the third game.
Broadbent plans to be evaluated by an orthopedist today.
Harvard 7, Princeton 2
Junior Michael Blumberg won the clinching match as the Crimson knocked off two-time defending Ivy champion Princeton (6-2, 4-2) yesterday.
Blumberg, playing at No. 5, beat intercollegiate No. 36 Dent Wilkens 9-3, 5-9, 9-3, 9-2.
After winning the first game easily, Blumberg jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second game before Wilkens ran the table to even the match.
“I lost my focus a little bit,” Blumberg said. “I started to be a little bit less sharp on all my shots.”
But Blumberg recovered to take the next two games and secure Harvard’s fifth individual win.
At No. 7, freshman intercollegiate No. 25 Jason De Lierre came from behind to beat Preston Comey in five games.
De Lierre took the first seven points of the fourth game en route to a 9-1 victory, but had more trouble in the fifth game, in which he fell behind, 7-2, before reeling off seven consecutive points to take the match.
“I just wasn’t really focused or concentrating much,” De Lierre said of the match’s early games. “The first tough game, it takes a good while to get into it.”
Broadbent, playing at No. 1, trailed 2-0, 6-2 when he slipped going to his left and went down grabbing his right knee.
He had fallen behind 4-0 in the opening game, but drew back even at four all before tinning on a drop shot, giving El-Halaby the opportunity to close out the game.
El-Halaby then opened the second game by sending Broadbent scrambling all over the court and extended his streak of consecutive points to 14 by blanking Broadbent in the game.
Broadbent took the first point of the third game, but El-Halaby regained the lead before Broadbent was forced to retire.
“The thing with Yasser, he’s so dangerous all the time all over the court,” Broadbent said. “He doesn’t play like any other player.”
“I can’t play flick shots and quick drives with him,” Broadbent said. “He eats that up. He loves that.”
Intercollegiate No. 19 James Bullock and No. 37 Ziggy Whitman—the team’s co-captains—each won their final home match in straight games at No. 4 and No. 9, respectively.
“That was actually the best I’ve played all year,” Whitman said. “I was just seeing the ball earlier and taking it earlier and keeping pressure on, making openings and then shutting the door.”
In two matchups of freshmen, Crimson intercollegiate No. 7 Siddharth Suchde won in straight games, beating No. 20 Vincent Yu 9-2, 9-0, 9-4 at No. 2, while Harvard’s Ilan Oren, the intercollegiate No. 18, needed four games to beat No. 26 Michael Gilman 9-6, 1-9, 9-4, 9-5 at No. 3.
Harvard 9, Penn 0
Playing at home for the first time since Dec. 6, Harvard turned in its most lopsided victory of the season Saturday afternoon, beating Penn (8-7, 1-5) 9-0 without dropping a single game.
The shutout was the Crimson’s second in a row following its disappointing 7-2 setback to No.1 Trinity on Jan. 31.
Bullock easily beat intercollegiate No. 43 Jacob Himmelrich 9-3, 9-3, 9-0 at No. 4 as the players repeatedly collided throughout the match, resulting in many lets.
As the match wore on, both players became visibly frustrated, leading Himmelrich to bark at his own teammate, Benjamin Ende, who was refereeing the match.
“It’s a fiery game,” Bullock said. “If you’re going to be more aggressive, you’re going to be in front of the guy a lot more and there are going to be calls.”
At No. 1, Broadbent defeated No. 11 Gilly Lane with little difficulty, 9-3, 9-1, 9-0, using the easier match to hone some of the weaker parts of his game.
“I’m trying to work on some things from the center of the court,” Broadbent said. “Sometimes, I can get a little lazy with my feet and compensate too much on my hands, so I have to get over and get into position.”
Playing at No. 2, Suchde returned to action after being sidelined by back spasms and collected his first victory since Nov. 22, defeating intercollegiate No. 16 Richard Repetto.
Harvard took advantage of the relatively easy match to prepare for tougher competition.
“When you play in a tough match and you’re nervous, you play what you feel most comfortable playing,” Whitman said. “In a match like this, when you’re not nervous…it allows you to work on things.”
—Staff writer Alan G. Ginsberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer David H. Stearns can be reached at email@example.com.