Riding on the experience of its starting nine—six of which are seniors—the Crimson will look not only to make a push for the Ivy title but also to give perennial powerhouse Trinity a run for the national title.
Harvard, which finished last year with a record of 5-1 in the Ivies, will start its season this weekend with a Friday afternoon match against Brown (9-8, 0-6 Ivy last season) and a Sunday match against Williams, both at the Murr Center.
“The key word for this season is consolidation,” said senior Mihir Sheth, who will be playing in the seventh position for the Crimson this weekend. “We haven’t got a lot of new recruits this year. It’s basically working with whatever we have from last year, putting in a lot of hard work with the guys that are on the team, and seeing what we can do. We realize that this is our last season, our last push, and we need to make sure we leave on a high. We won the Ivies last year. We want to win the national title this year.”
In order to win the national title, Harvard would likely have find a way to beat the Trinity Bantams—winners of a record-breaking 144 straight matches and counting.
“For a lot of us this could be potentially the last opportunity to compete in this highly competitive sport of squash,” said captain Ilan Oren, who will be starting in the second position. “Of course our immediate goal is to win the Ivy title.”
“This time we want to win the Ivies outright,” Sheth added.
After some excruciatingly close losses last year—the most heartbreaking perhaps being the 5-4 loss to the Tigers, which made it impossible for the Crimson to clinch sole possession of the Ivy title—the team this year hopes to learn from its mistakes in tight situations and use its experience to its advantage.
“We all know that this is our last year so we’re not going to be distracted,” said senior Siddharth Suchde, Harvard’s first position starter.
“You really know when to focus more, and during what parts of the year [the matches are more crucial],” Oren said. “In the past we would lose some really close games, but this year I think [our experience] is going to be the difference.”
The Crimson is also going into the season with a good deal of confidence. In the Ivy scrimmages played a couple of weeks ago, Harvard beat the Bulldogs, 5-4, with one of its top players on the bench, and then beat Princeton, the No. 2 team in the country, by a 7-2 tally.
The Crimson is ranked right behind the Tigers, at No. 3, and Yale follows at No. 4. Williams and Brown are ranked eighth and eleventh, respectively.
“So far this year we’ve started off on a great note,” Sheth said. “The intensity with which we’ve been practicing, and the way we’ve been playing, are much better now than it was at this point last year. In the years I’ve been here I haven’t felt as good as I feel right now, both personally and about the team. Everyone is putting in so much effort. Hopefully it’ll all come together.”
Also in the starting nine this weekend are senior Jason De Lierre at third, freshman Colin West at fourth, senior Garnett Booth at fifth, sophomore Verdi DiSesa at sixth, junior Chessin Gertler at eighth, and sophomore Niko Hardy at ninth.
—Staff writer Tony D. Qian can be reached at email@example.com.