Broadbent Falls in Finals

You can’t blame sophomore Will Broadbent if he’s getting a little tired of second place. A week after he and the Harvard men’s squash team nearly pulled off the greatest upset in recent squash history in what turned into a 5-4 loss to Trinity at the CSA Team Championships, Broadbent once again found himself as the underdog trying to knock off the defending champion. And just as was the case the week before, the underdog put up a valiant fight before succumbing to the best in college squash.

No. 3 seed Broadbent lost to No. 1 seed Yasser El-Halaby of Princeton 9-0, 9-6, 9-1 in the finals of the CSA Individual Championships yesterday. Broadbent was attempting to become the first Crimson player to claim the CSA individual title since Daniel Ezra did it in 1996.

“I’m playing some of the best squash I’ve ever played,” Broadbent said. “It was too bad I didn’t come out on the top in the end but [El-Halaby] is the best player...I’m really anxious for next year now because I’ve really seen this team gel over the last four or five months, and I don’t think anyone will stop us next year.”

In the early rounds Broadbent cruised, defeating No. 31 seed Nate Beck of Princeton and No. 19 seed Nadeem Osman of Trinity before matching up against teammate No. 21 seed junior Michael Blumberg in the quarterfinals.

Blumberg, who played at the No. 5 position for much of the season for Harvard, upset Dartmouth’s No. 1 Ryan Donegan to get to the quarterfinals. But Blumberg couldn’t keep up with Broadbent and lost in a quick match 9-1, 9-0, 9-3.


“It’s always tough playing against a teammate, especially against someone like Will who’s playing so strong,” Blumberg said. “We play each other a lot in practice so I’m very familiar with him…After [our] match, and even before, I thought he had a good chance of going all the way. He’s definitely up there at the top.”

After his match with Blumberg, Broadbent moved on to the semis. Just as he had in the team semifinals last weekend, Broadbent dispatched No. 2 seed Julian Illingworth of Yale with relative ease, defeating him 9-6, 9-7, 9-4 for the right to advance to the finals.

Meanwhile, El-Halaby took on freshman No. 6 seed Siddharth Suchde in the semifinal match. Suchde, who came on strong late in the season for the Crimson playing at the No. 2 spot, avenged an earlier loss, defeating No. 4 seed Bernardo Samper of Trinity in the quarterfinals.

Suchde had an impressive tournament and did his best to make it an all-Harvard final, but the best player in squash proved to be too much, and Suchde dropped the match in three games 9-7, 9-3, 9-2, setting up the El-Halaby-Broadbent showdown.

“He’s really tough,” Suchde said of El-Halaby. “I thought I played him really close, even though it was three games, and I thought Will played him tough.”

But in the end, neither Suchde nor Broadbent could get past El-Halaby. After dropping the first game 9-0, Broadbent jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the second. But El-Halaby fought back and ran off eight unanswered points to take the game 9-6 and end any realistic shot Broadbent had of pulling of the upset.

“The way he plays, he’s just a very hot and cold player. In the beginning of the second game he got a little cold and I stepped it up a little,” Broadbent said. “He really plays like a professional squash player. He’s very controlled.”

Three other Harvard players competed in the tournament. Freshman Ilan Oren and junior Asher Hochberg both advanced to the second round. Oren then lost to Reggie Schonborn of Trinity, whom he beat in the Team Championships last weekend, and Hochberg lost to Samper.

Co-captain James Bullock also competed and lost in the first round to Javier Castilla of Denison.

—Staff writer David H. Stearns can be reached


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