With all other courts empty and the overall match decided, the Murr Center crowd gathered in the stands for the last home match of the season Friday to watch sophomore No. 1 Ali Farag put on a show. Against an under-matched opponent, the 2010 Junior World Champion controlled the court with ease and finished off a clean sweep for the Harvard men’s squash team over No. 16 Brown, coasting to an 11-1, 11-1, 11-3 victory.
“We were a stronger team, and you could see it tonight,” Harvard coach Mike Way said.
The 9-0 rout, the first of Harvard’s two weekend matchups, marked the fourth consecutive win for the No. 4 Crimson (14-2, 5-1 Ivy).
“I thought it was a good match for everyone overall,” freshman Sachin Patel said. “We all played solid squash and it was a good tune up.”
The Crimson handled Brown (8-7, 0-6), dropping just a single game all match.
“Right now mentally, we’re in the best headspace we’ve been all year,” Way said.
Despite the disparity in rankings between the two squads, the Harvard players did not treat their matches lightly.
“A lot of guys went through their pre-match routine, just as they would on Sunday [against Yale], as they would for a bigger match, so they took this one just like the rest, and it came across in the score,” Patel said.
Against a lower-ranked opponent, when a lack of mental focus can cause what the players referred to as “silly” mistakes, the Crimson held strong until the final point of each match.
“One of my role models back in Egypt told me, ‘you can lose to anybody and you can win against anybody, so you need to give respect to everybody,’” Farag said.
“It’s a lot of staying focused and hitting good length,” Patel said. “It’s about taking opportunities when they come and staying mentally tough in the match.”
At the No. 9 position, co-captain Will Ahmed battled through two tough early sets in the final home match of his career. After winning the back-and-forth games, 11-9 and 11-8, respectively, Ahmed steamrolled through the third with a convincing 11-2 win.
Playing ahead of Ahmed was junior Alexander Ma, who faced off against Brown’s Neel Swami. Ma followed Ahmed’s lead, claiming a tightly contested 11-9 win in his opening game. But Ma stepped up in the subsequent two games, cruising to another straight-set win for the Harvard.
“Brown gave us some of the closest matches of the day at eight and nine,” Way said.
The middle of the Crimson lineup never faced a scare on the evening, adding six more 3-0 victories for the home team.
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