The No. 3 Harvard men’s squash team expected to gain some valuable match experience at the USSRA 5-Man Team Championship this coming weekend at Yale. But due to a lack of team entries, the event was cancelled, leaving the Crimson desperate for live competition before Dartmouth and Trinity on January 29 and 31, respectively.
Given the tournament’s cancellation, Harvard will not play a match in January until traveling to Hanover, N.H. for Dartmouth. It’s an unfortunate break for the team and coach Satinder Bajwa, who was looking forward to sending two five-man teams to New Haven for a tough battle.
“We would have loved to get the match competition,” Bajwa said. “It’s a tough time in January to get competition, so this sets us back a little.”
During the December break, Harvard traveled to Los Angeles on a training trip to prepare for the USSRA Championships. The Crimson defeated a team of top local Los Angeles players 6-3 and seemed primed to succeed at Yale.
“It’s disappointing for us because we were really prepared for it, “ said co-captain James Bullock. “We had a week-long training trip over the holidays to get ready for this competition. It would have been more useful to get some more competition under our belt but we’ll find our way around it.”
But the cancellation may eventually serve as a blessing in disguise. The extended break will allow the team to refocus its efforts towards conditioning.
“Unfortunately the 5-man is gone so we can’t dwell on it,” coach Bajwa said. “On the other hand, we can consolidate by working on our training more. Overall, it just means we have to do more in house to prepare ourselves.”
Bullock mirrored his coach’s sentiments.
“Some of the guys were building up their expectations towards this competition,” Bullock said. “Now we have to channel our energies to work much harder in the coming weeks.”
Of course, Harvard cannot help but look ahead to Trinity, always the squad’s biggest match of the season.
“We have an important match coming up against Trinity,” freshman Ilan Oren said. “Trinity has won nationals five years in a row.”
And despite the cancellation, Harvard is still confident about its chances at the end of the month.
“The whole team looks really well placed right now,” coach Bajwa added. “The Trinity match could go either way. Hopefully we still can come through.”