Despite tenacious efforts up and down the lineup, the Crimson suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this year, falling to Yale 6-3.
After a weekend split against Ivy rivals Princeton and Penn, the Harvard men’s squash team (6-4, 3-3 Ivy League) returned to the Barnaby Courts last night for its final regular-season match, hosting the third-ranked and archrival Bulldogs (13-2, 5-1).
Yale promised to be a formidable opponent, showing energy and confidence as a result of winning five of their last six contests, and delivered with three matches in straight sets.
However, the night began in high spirits for the Crimson, as it was Senior Day for Verdi DiSesa, Niko Hrdy and Ned Reeves.
Hrdy—seeded at four this week—gave a very impressive showing in one of the three opening matches, swiftly beating his opponent, John Roberts, in three straight games 9-5, 9-4, 9-7. Hrdy, a stand-out this season for Harvard, continued to excite the fans with his skill and composure.
Possibly the most exciting opening performance though, came from junior Richard Hill, seeded sixth for the match. Hill took his opponent to five sets 9-2, 4-9, 9-5, 6-9, 9-0, winning his first, third, and final game.
“I was a little annoyed blowing a 5-0 lead” said Hill, “but before the final game I finally asked myself if I was going to win this.”
Hill battled through his five games, proving to be a daunting opponent, not giving up one point in the final game.
“I fought for every point up until the last point at 8-0. I saw my lead but still realized anything can happen.”
Hill ended his regular-season with an overall record of 8-2.
Not to be outdone, sophomore and fifth seed J. Reed Endresen lost no steam replacing Hill on court number two.
The second-year player showed no fatigue after tough weekend matches, dominating the opening game en route to a 9-1 win, but faltered by dropping his next two.
Faced with an uphill battle, Endresen claimed the fourth game, setting up a pivotal final frame. The sophomore stumbled to a 0-5 deficit before finding his rhythm and climbing back to a 10-8 victory.
“It felt pretty good to win the game,” Endresen said. “Last year we played Yale at Nationals, and unfortunately I lost, so it was a very nice revenge for me. I played to win for the seniors today.”
Despite the Senior Day festivities, some of the fourth-years fell on hard luck.
Co-captain DiSesa was relentless and refused to let up during his own five-game match. After losing his first two games by a small margin, DiSesa battled back against Yale opponent Todd Ruth.
Although his first successful game had to go to ten, he fought back to prove himself in the fourth game, getting nine straight points to tie the match at 2-2.
In the decisive frame, both competitors battled fiercely, exchanging seemingly endless rallies with the score knotted at 5-5.
In the end, Ruth was victorious, needing all ten points to overcome DiSesa.
Trailing 2-4, the Crimson needed stellar efforts from the final three competitors, but came up short. Junior Frank Cohen and sophomore Eliot Buchanon fell in straight games 9-1, 9-4, 9-7, and 9-5, 9-5, 9-4 respectively sealing a win for the Bulldogs.
Although the team came up short, junior top seed Colin West rebounded from a weekend loss to Princeton’s Mauricio Sanchez with a 3-0 victory.
Yale’s John Fulham put up little resistance, as West dropped only three total points in a 9-2, 9-1, 9-0 drubbing of the Bulldogs top player.
The third-year standout finished the season with a 9-1 record and looks to stand among the Nation’s best at Harvard’s helm as the post-season approaches.
Despite a disappointing end to the regular season, the Crimson’s playoff prospects remain bright.
Harvard will travel to Princeton, N.J. for the CSA National Team Championships as the fifth overall seed, looking to improve on their next trip to New Jersey.
In order to gear up for the year’s final tournament, the Crimson will look to take advantage of well-deserved time off.
Hill stressed the importance of recovery time, as the squad prepares for rigorous back-to-back matches in two weeks.