Trinity Ekes Out Title Over M. Squash in Thriller

Broad Shoulders
Joseph L. Abel

Sophomore Will Broadbent defeated two opponents ranked in the top five nationally this weekend.

The No. 2 Harvard men’s squash team took five-time defending champion Trinity down to the wire in the finals of this weekend’s CSA Team Championships at Yale yesterday, but in the end fell just short in a 5-4 loss.

The Crimson (9-2, 6-0 Ivy) became the first squad to take four individual matches from the Bantams (18-0) since the 2000-2001 Harvard team, which did so on February 3, 2001, while Trinity extended its record winning streak to 108 consecutive matches dating back to the 1997-1998 season.

Sophomore intercollegiate No. 5 Will Broadbent recorded his two biggest wins of the season for the Crimson, defeating No. 2 Julian Illingworth 9-6, 8-10, 2-9, 9-1, 9-6 in Harvard’s 8-1 semifinal victory over No. 3 Yale on Saturday before toppling No. 3 Bernardo Samper, the 2002 intercollegiate champion, 9-1, 9-1, 9-2 yesterday against Trinity.

“If he’s not the guy to beat, he’s certainly a guy that absolutely everyone in the country should be scared of,” co-captain Ziggy Whitman said. “He’ll go out and make it happen—for the whole team. He carries our team.”

The Crimson beat the No. 7 University of Western Ontario 9-0 in Friday’s quarterfinals.

TRINITY 5, HARVARD 4

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—After Broadbent made relatively quick work of Samper, Harvard needed either co-captain intercollegiate No. 18 James Bullock or freshman No. 47 Jason De Lierre to come from behind to take the title.

Bullock, playing at No. 4, had dropped the first two games 9-7 and 9-2 to No. 9 Yvain Badan before recovering to win the third 9-5. Bullock then seized an 8-7 lead in the fourth game, but Badan saved the game ball and tied the score at eight. Bullock won the serve back, but couldn’t convert and Badan closed him out 10-8.

That left De Lierre—who himself had dropped the first two games before coming back to win the third—to decide the title with Trinity tri-captain and intercollegiate No. 28 Pat Malloy at No. 7.

Malloy jumped ahead with the first two points of the fourth game, but De Lierre briefly drew even before Malloy reeled off seven-consecutive points to take the 9-0, 9-3, 2-9, 9-2 win and give the Bantams the Potter Trophy.

Broadbent’s win at No. 1 came surprisingly easily, as he and Samper played several spectacular points, but Broadbent largely controlled play in his three-game victory.

In the first game, Broadbent jumped out to a 6-1 lead and then lunged to his right to put his seventh point away before winning the next one with a backhand en route to building a one-game advantage.

The next two games saw more of the same, with Samper catching the top of the tin several times as Broadbent moved methodically toward the victory.

“I had talked about a few things with the coaches about rather than playing containing squash to actually attack myself, so I worked on those things and they worked,” Broadbent said.

The Crimson—behind wins from freshman intercollegiate No. 11 Ilan Oren at No. 3 and junior intercollegiate No. 22 Mike Blumberg at No. 6—jumped out to a 2-0 advantage and came just points away from making it 3-0.

Freshman intercollegiate No. 52 Garnett Booth took the first two games from No. 40 Jacques Swanepoel, 9-3 and 9-0, but Swanepoel—aided by some questionable calls by Malloy—came back to win the next three games, 9-6, 10-8 and 9-4.

“I felt like Garnett was hooked,” Whitman said. “Balls that should have been strokes were being called lets because Malloy felt like Garnett was fishing. My opinion on that is that, yeah, when someone’s fishing, you don’t give them the benefit of the doubt, but whether you’re fishing or not, a stroke’s a stroke.”

“Was he fishing? No, but he wasn’t playing balls where there was obstruction,” Whitman added. “He was just taking the space in a way that Pat doesn’t.

“Garnett was just getting hooked because I think Pat was frustrated with how many lets he was calling and he therefore wasn’t calling some strokes that should have been strokes.”

Harvard coach Satinder Bajwa declined to comment on the specific calls in question, but did address the entire refereeing system in men’s intercollegiate squash, which includes a procedure for appeal.

“We probably lost the match on that,” Bajwa said. “We are victims of how we set up our game. “The system needs to be as it is for the women [where there is no appeal]. It works very well. If it was clear-cut with one person making the calls, we wouldn’t be discussing it.”

“That would stop any questions about doubtful calls or the refereeing decisions,” Bajwa added.

Oren and Blumberg dealt junior intercollegiate No. 8 Reggie Schonborn and freshman No. 21 Eduardo Pereira their first collegiate losses.

Oren fell behind 6-2 in his first game before running off six consecutive points. Schonborn then tied the score at eight, but Oren closed out the game with a pair of strokes and then rolled over Schonborn 9-6 and 9-4 to avenge a 9-0, 9-0, 9-3 loss in the Bantams’ 7-2 regular-season win Jan. 31.

Meanwhile, Blumberg played some of his crispest, most consistent squash of the season in winning 9-0, 10-8, 9-6. With the score tied at four in the third game, Pereira caught Blumberg leaning the wrong way, but Blumberg saved himself with a shot off the back wall. Pereira later kept himself in the point with his own shot off the back wall, but Blumberg finished the point with a definitive kill to propel himself to the win.

In the second round of matches, freshman intercollegiate No. 7 Siddharth Suchde upset No. 6 Michael Ferreira at No. 2 in a hotly contested match that saw the competitors jaw with each other and complain about Oren’s stroke calls as Suchde dispatched the Trinity tri-captain 9-6, 9-3, 5-9, 9-4.

At the same time, junior intercollegiate No. 27 Asher Hochberg suffered his first loss of the season, falling in three games to No. 20 Nadeem Osman at No. 5, and co-captain Whitman—the intercollegiate No. 39—was swept by No. 29 Shaun Johnstone at No. 8.

“I was throwing my racket at balls,” Whitman said. “I was running so hard and I was trying to beat him the way I know I should play squash, and then in the second half of the second game and the third game, I had to resort to just chasing balls because I wasn’t beating him. I just said to myself, ‘If you’re going to beat me, you’re going to have to be here all day.’”

HARVARD 8, YALE 1

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Broadbent’s five-game victory over Illingworth punctuated a convincing 8-1 Harvard win over Yale (12-3, 5-1) on Saturday afternoon.

Broadbent took the first game 9-6 and led 8-3 in the second, building his lead as much of the play was contested in the frontcourt. But Illingworth saved two game balls before reeling off seven consecutive points to even the match.

Illingworth then fell behind 2-1 in the third game before winning the serve back with a skillful return and running off three straight points. Broadbent briefly interrupted Illingworth’s spurt, finishing a point in which he dove to keep it alive and both players hit shots off the back wall with a great shot, but Illingworth recovered to take the game 9-2.

Broadbent roared back to take the fourth game 9-1, finishing one point with an emphatic kill that prompted Blumberg to bow from the stands in a “we’re not worthy” gesture.

In the fifth game, Broadbent managed to hold off Illingworth 9-6 despite the best efforts of the home crowd.

Oren also needed five games to outlast a visibly tired intercollegiate No. 13 Anshul Manchanda at No. 3, while Whitman dropped a five-game battle at No. 8 to No. 46 Trevor Rees, who donned a Chuck Knoblauch No. 11 New York Yankees t-shirt after seeing a 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 deficit.

HARVARD 9, WESTERN ONTARIO 0

WALLINGFORD, Conn.—Harvard opened the tournament by cruising to a 9-0 win over the University of Western Ontario on the campus of Choate Rosemary Hall.

Canadians Blumberg and De Lierre celebrated the reunion with 3-0 victories, as did six of their teammates.

—Staff writer Alan G. Ginsberg can be reached at aginsber@fas.harvard.edu.

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