Harvard's top six racquetmen finished second in this weekend's National Intercollegiate Squash Championships, losing to the University of Pennsylvania by two points, but holding their No. 1 national ranking.
Captain Glenn Whitman made the A division playoffs, but lost the finals in a tight match to Mexico's Juan DeVillafrancka--15-11, 17-15, 17-15. Since Francka plays for Mexico, however, Whitman is now the top-ranked college player in the U.S.
Three other Harvard players, No. 3 man Dick Cashin, No. 4 Archie Gwathmey and No. 6 Fred Fisher, all made their way to the semifinals before losing difficult matches to Penn opponents. Freshman protege Bill Kaplan lost in the quarterfinals to Princeton's Calahan.
A mix-up in scheduling by tournament officials caused Harvard's No. 2 man, Peter Blaiser, to sleep through his second round match, defaulting to Sarfraz of Princeton. Blaiser still has a chance for a top ten ranking in the U.S.
Pennsylvania, the home team, edged out Harvard, 30-28, for the trophy, while Princeton finished third with 25 points. This is only the second time in nine years that Penn has beaten the Harvard "squashers."
But Coach Jack Barnaby said he was "happy as a clam in the mud at low tide." He added that "Penn's outstanding performance this weekend emphasizes what a great job our boys did to beat them last week."
Barnaby was "filled with praise" for Whitman. He had a tough job following up Briggs, but managed to go undefeated all season and rise from No. 10 in the U.S. last year to No. 1 today. It took one of the top players in the world to beat him."
Because only six men played in this tournament, instead of the usual nine, this will not affect the national team ratings. Harvard will keep its No. 1 national ranking, sharing it with Princeton.
Next year's squad will have a tough job facing many of the same problems this year's team had--especially a lack of confidence from supporters. As Barnaby said, "They called us underdogs and said we wouldn't be any competition, but we still managed to be No. 1 in the country, and we're going to be just as tough next year."
Right on, Jack!