MALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Power Fills Big Shoes at No. 1 Spot for Harvard

I Got the Power
Nida Naushad

Thrust into the No. 1 spot in his first collegiate match, freshman Gary Power stepped up to the challenge, finishing the year with a 10-5 mark and placing seventh at the CSA individual championships. Power was the only member of the Harvard team to earn first-team All-America accolades.

To close out the 2009-2010 squash season, then-senior Colin West ’10 captured a CSA National Individual Championships and led Harvard to a fifth-place finish at the CSA Team National Championships. Upon graduation, West’s departure left a big question mark at the front of the Crimson lineup.

Enter freshman Gary Power.

Jumping into untested waters in his first collegiate match, Power dominated at the No. 1 spot, cruising to a 3-0 victory in which his opponent scored a total of only 15 points.

“Gary was awesome from day one,” captain Reed Endresen said. “He comes out to practice with a great mindset. He has some good goals for himself and comes to practice and wants to win.”

Power’s proficiency at Harvard’s top spot only continued as the season progressed, culminating in an impressive performance at CSA Individual Championships. Though Princeton’s Todd Harrity took home the Pool Cup this year, Power finished the weekend ranked seventh in the nation, and, with the performance, secured first-team All-America status in his rookie season.

This year, though capped on both ends by stellar performances, was not without its challenges. In a long, tight match against Yale’s Hywel Robinson, Power came out on top after taking game five, 12-10. Power lost the first and fourth games en route to the win; despite the comeback, the rival Bulldogs earned a 7-2 victory over the Crimson.

“My toughest match was the Yale match,” Power said. “It’s bittersweet…so that one really stands out in my memory.”

Power finished the season with an impressive 10-5 record at the competitive first slot. Though he fell in three sets during the regular season to Harrity, the eventual national champion, Power recorded several other key victories.

One of Power’s biggest wins came against Trinity, which finished the 2010-2011 campaign by earning its 13th straight national team championship. After dropping the first game, Power came back to win the next three in a row, handing Parth Sharma of the undefeated Bantams his first individual loss of the season.

Power also posted a strong showing against his Dartmouth counterpart, earning a victory over Christopher Hanson in five games. Down two games to one, Power took the final two sets, 11-2 and 11-7, respectively, to win the match and help Harvard secure a 7-2 victory.

At the national team championships, Power dropped a tough contest against Cornell’s Nicholas Sachvie in the fifth-place match, but the Crimson was still able to take down the Big Red and claim the No. 5 spot in the nation.

Though Power played a large role in Harvard’s success this year, he had a lot of help from a strong upperclassman core and three other freshman who played in the Crimson’s top nine this season.

Power has set impressive goals—both individual and team-oriented—for the rest of his squash career at Harvard: reinstate the Crimson’s overall dominance over Ivy League and national squash and attempt to break into the top individual spots.

“Next year, we have a really strong recruiting class coming in again,” Power said. “We’re looking to win a national championship. It may not be possible next year, but it’s definitely something we can accomplish in the next two or three years. That has to be a goal for us going forward.

“I would love to get up there and be one of the top guys in the nation,” he continued. “I finished seventh [at nationals] this year, but I’d love to be that number one guy. [Harrity is] very good…but I want to try to be the best.”

So far, so good. Power has more than matched up with his opponents in his rookie campaign, and in Harvard’s toughest matches, has consistently taken on the top players in the league.

“He’s a great kid,” Endresen said. “He’s working his tail off every day, and he’s going to do great things.”

—Staff writer Catherine E. Coppinger can be reached at ccoppinger@college.harvard.edu.

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