A fortnight before the Harvard men’s squash team’s first match, sophomore Ali Farag is already doing the team proud.
On Oct 28th-Oct 30th he represented the Crimson well at the Price-Bullington Invitational in Richmond, Va., taking home first place out of 16 competitors and beating two Ivy League foes in the process.
In the tournament’s first round, Farag dismantled the winner of the Qualifier tournament and then beat Adam Perkimoaki, a junior at the University of Rochester in his second match. In the semi-finals, Farag took down Yale Junior Kenneth Chang, setting up a final match against Ramit Tandon from Columbia. Tandon was the topped ranked junior in India during the 2010-2011 season and is a player Farag is quite familiar with.
“I’ve seen him play since he was a kid because we played in Europe together,” Farag said. “He is getting better.”
Still, Farag was able to overcome his Lion opponent and reclaim the championship for the Crimson. After the three-year reign in Richmond of former Harvard student Colin West, a competitor from Cornell took the prize last year.
The win was far from Farag’s first run-in with success. The Cairo native placed second in the 2010 World Juniors - falling to a fellow Egyptian - and is a U19 British Junior Open Champion.
While Farag is accustomed to victory, he said that his first tournament since coming to America felt a bit different.
“I’m not holding my name only [now],” Farag said. “I’m holding the Harvard name so it’s big to win it. I have to win because of Harvard.”
He will hope to continue his success in his first year in Cambridge after studying at The American University in Cairo last year. While there, Farag served as captain on an Egypt Junior Squash team that won the 2010 world title.
Sophomore Nigel Koh was also among the top amateurs who accepted an invitation to compete in the longest running invitational squash tournament in the U.S. Beyond the honor bestowed upon the victor of the main draw, competitors vie for confidence going into scholastic tournaments because a finalist in the Price-Bullington Invitational often goes on to win in the Squash Nationals.
Farag will have his Harvard debut in the season opener against Williams on November 18.
“I’m optimistic about the season,” Farag said. “We have a good chance to win it. We’ve got some good players. We have12 players who are all competing for the top line.”