The best amateur squash squad in the United States will undoubtedly lose the intercollegiate team championship at West Point this weekend--for the simple reason that the "team" title goes not to the best nine men in the country but only to the top four-man squad.
While Harvard's varsity ranks number one nationally. Yale has the best top four players. The Elis will send defending champion Ralph Howe, defending runner-up Bob Hetherington, George West, and Charlie Frank against Vic Niederhoffer, Lou Williams, Terry Robinson, and Allen Terrell.
In Wednesday's match for the Ivy League title, which Harvard won 6-3 (sweeping the last five contests), all the four Yalies except West were victorious. Hetherington blasted Bill Morris off the courts, 3-0; Howe edged Niederhoffer, 3-2; and Frank defeated Paul Sullivan, 3-2, as Williams upset West. Both Robinson (number seven) and Terrell (nine) won their matches.
But if the outcome of the "team" competition seems certain, the winner of the intercollegiate singles crown cannot be as easily predicted. Niederhoffer and Howe will probably face each other for the second year in a row.
On the basis of his win Wednesday, Howe is favored. The match in Hemenway, however, was marked more by forced lets, inept score-keeping, and unsportsmanlike conduct than by good squash. If both Niederhoffer and Howe play the ball instead of the man, the match could go either way.
The outcome of the contest will determine the national rankings of the two, since it is the only tournament this year (as opposed to team competition) in which they will have faced each other. The winner will rank third behind national champion Ben Heckscher '57 and Charlie Ufford '53.
Yale won the team title easily last year. In the singles finals, Howe edged Hetherington 3-2 in an exciting match played at Hemenway.