In the first half of its weekend doubleheader, the Harvard men’s squash team (8-0, 2-0) defeated Penn (3-3, 0-1), 9-0 at the Ringe Squash Courts Saturday. The No. 13 Quakers did not win a game against the No. 3 Crimson. Harvard travels Sunday to take on the top-ranked Princeton Tigers, who are undefeated on the year and have won each contest by a 7-2 or better margin.
“I thought the team played really well today,” co-captain Zeke Scherl said. “We clearly realized that we were the favorite and the better team going into today and everyone took it seriously. We really executed our game plan on and off the court quickly and didn’t mess around.”
At the top ranked spot, junior Ali Farag defeated opponent Danny Greenberg 11-1, 11-1, 11-7, surrendering the fewest points of any Crimson player on the day. Later, line three junior Gary Power and line four sophomore Tyler Olson defeated their Quaker opponents by identical 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 scores.
“I look up and down the lineup and I see that every player is playing up to their potential if not above, and that’s pretty great,” Scherl said. “I can see the players coming off court and going on court and it’s a professional, mature group down the roster.”
At line nine, freshman Matt Roberts scored his team-leading fifth win of the season against Quaker junior Daniel Judd. Roberts had a tight first set against Judd, winning 15-13 in what would be the closest set of the day. However, Roberts bounced back and took the final two sets 11-1 and 11-6 to close out the victory.
The win was Harvard’s fourth consecutive victory by a 9-0 margin and its seventh overall. Against Princeton, the defending national champions, the Crimson is winless in regular season play during co-captain Jason Michas’ four years with the team.
“We’re very excited to play them and it’ll be a good match for us,” Michas said. “We respect how good they have been in the past and how good the players are and we know we have to play really well tomorrow to have a good result.”
According to Scherl, this year’s squad—which brought back eight of last year’s top nine players—had time last offseason for an introspective look at its season and has come back with increased focus.
“Last year’s team was a less mature version of this year’s team,” Scherl said. “We didn’t perform as well as we wanted last year and we talked about that with our coaches and it came down to a mindset and mental attitude that we adopted this year. I think tomorrow will be a great test and great indicator for the rest of the season for us.”
The entire team, which is the largest it has been in the last four years, traveled for this weekend’s matches. Michas said that the experience of traveling with the entire team has buoyed the top nine and brought the team closer together.
“This is actually a really fun trip for the team as a whole,” Michas said. “Seeing everyone who’s there at practice behind the courts cheering for us is big. We’re all digging deep in the trenches working in practice and seeing them behind us at matches is great.”
Scherl said he does not see any mismatches between the two teams.
“We are trying to approach it as professionally as possible and we know that if we stick to our basics that we are definitely good enough to beat this team,” Scherl said. “It’s a great team we have thus far and looking down Princeton’s lineup and looking down ours I think that there is nothing certain but we can definitely compete with them. Everyone needs to show up as they’ve been showing up recently and play great squash but I think everyone is in great form.”
—Staff writer David Freed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.