When Colin West ’10—last year’s No. 1 for the Harvard men’s squash team and 2010 CSA individual champion—graduated last May, he left his successor, freshman Gary Power, with some pretty big shoes to fill.
But Power has proven throughout the season that he can handle the challenge, this past week being no exception.
“It’s definitely hard to follow in his footsteps, but I like the pressure of being number one,” Power said. “I like being able to play tough matches every time.”
In the span of four short days, from last Wednesday to Saturday, Power earned his two greatest victories of the season, defeating the top player of both the No. 2 Yale Bulldogs and the undefeated No. 1 Trinity Bantams.
“He’s a mature young man, very gifted and very competitive,” Crimson coach Mike Way said. “He always gives it one hundred percent. He’s still developing and evolving, and, as each year goes by, he’s going to become a much, much better player.”
Though the Trinity team had just extended its record-setting winning streak to 238 matches, Power remained unshaken by that fact and entered last Wednesday’s match confident and ready to win.
“My whole body felt really good,” Power said. “There was a big crowd there. It was the first time we had a big match at home, so it was definitely really exciting. I was really pumped up and I don’t think the Trinity guy I played was really ready for it.”
Power won the match in four sets. He beat his opponent in the first two sets, 11-6 and 11-7, respectively.
The third set proved to be more of a challenge, and Power lost, 11-9. In the fourth set, despite controversial calls, Power ultimately held on, winning the set, 11-4, and the match, 3-1.
“He really had to hold his composure there, because he nearly let that fourth game slip,” Way said. “[Trinity senior Parth Sharma] came back at him when we thought he was dead and gone. [Gary’s composure is] the sort of thing we’re looking for—maturity. You recognize that something’s slipping and then you make the adjustment, which is what he did mentally and tactically. He ended up getting the job done.”
Power’s victory was one of only three wins Harvard earned last Wednesday against the undefeated Bantams, but his success came as no surprise to his teammates who only expect the best from the talented and hardworking freshman.
“Gary played great squash and took his guy down,” captain Reed Endresen said. “He was just a far better player that night.”
The win put Power in the perfect mindset for the team’s next matchup against Ivy rival Yale, which took place this past Saturday. Power had already played his Bulldog opponent once before in the November Ivy scrimmages and lost, which made Saturday’s match all the more important.
Yet once again, Power did not allow his confidence to become shaken. Instead, he took what he learned from his first match against the Yale sophomore Hywel Robinson and fought even harder to beat his opponent in five matches, 3-2.
In the first set, Power came out strong, winning, 11-6. But after allowing his opponent to take an early lead in both the second and third sets, he followed the initial victory with back to back losses, 11-8 and 11-7, respectively.