At Last, National Title for Suchde

Senior avoids teammate Oren, prevails in finals at Individuals

From four to three to two to one.

The individual national title that had long eluded Harvard senior Siddharth Suchde—he finished fourth his freshman year, third in his sophomore campaign, and lost in the final last year—is finally his.

Suchde defeated Princeton’s Mauricio Sanchez, 9-2, 7-9, 10-8, 9-2, in the finals of the College Squash Association Individual Championships yesterday on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

“I am proud for Sidd,” coach Satinder Bajwa said. “He is a very deserving player.”

Suchde, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, claimed the first game of the final, but the second-seeded Sanchez proved to be a difficult opponent to overcome.

After Sanchez won the second game, 9-7, Suchde fought hard to regain control of the contest and pulled out the third game, 10-8. Feeding off the momentum, Suchde controlled the final game, winning 9-2.

The matchup pitted two familiar opponents against each other. Suchde and Sanchez met twice previously this season during clashes between their respective teams.

Both times, the Princeton sophomore walked away with the win. But the third time was the charm for Suchde.

With Princeton’s four-time individual champion Yassar El Halaby finally out of the picture, this year’s championship provided an opportunity for Suchde to end his successful collegiate career with a win.

“I am absolutely delighted right now,” Suchde said. “This is definitely one of the high points.”

The title also offered a measure of redemption for Suchde, still stinging from his inability to deliver a win over Sanchez in the Crimson’s semifinal match versus Princeton at the CSA National Championships last weekend. An ailing Suchde fell in straight games, and Harvard lost the bout, 5-4, winding up with a third-place finish in the tournament.

“It was more like I was playing for my team,” Suchde said. “It was incredibly special. It means something to play for something more than yourself. It was my way of saying sorry for last weekend.”

In fact, one of his teammates, No. 5 seed and Crimson captain Ilan Oren, was nearly his opponent in the final. Oren entered the competition undefeated on the season, without a loss since Feb. 6 of last year, and advanced to face Sanchez in the semifinals. After four long sets, Sanchez ended Oren’s perfect season with a 9-2, 9-6, 2-9, 9-7 victory.

“I’m very disappointed that I didn’t win,” Oren said. “[If Suchde and I had met in the finals], we both would have wanted to win really badly. It would have been very competitive.”

Suchde bounced top-seeded Baset Ashfaq of Trinity from the field with a decisive three-game win in his own semifinal. Ashfaq had eliminated Harvard senior Garnett Booth in the second round.

Sophomore Verdi DiSesa was granted the top seed in the “B” draw, but was upset by Bill Hatch of Yale in the Round of 16.

—Staff writer Jonathan Lehman contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Vincent R. Oletu can be reached at