Despite dropping all three contests in the first cycle of its final matchup at the CSA National Championships, the Harvard men’s squash team (9-6, 3-3 Ivy)—led by impressive performances from sophomore Alex Ma and captain Reed Endresen—defeated Cornell to secure a fifth place finish for the second straight year.
“We went down, 3-0, and both Reed and Alex Ma were down two games to love,” said freshman Gary Power, who played No. 1 for Harvard as a rookie. “Obviously we play to five games, so things weren’t looking good, but both of them came back to win. It was very exciting, with a lot of energy.”
The comeback served as a fitting end to a solid year of squash in which the Crimson maintained its place near the top of national standings despite a few major changes from last year’s squad—including the graduation of 2010 CSA Individual Champion Colin West and a coaching change that saw Mike Way take the helm of the Crimson.
“Overall, it was a great season,” said Endresen who played most of the season at the No. 2 spot after starting the year in the fifth slot. “We were a young team, had a new coach. Everything was new. We really came together in the end.”
Although Harvard lost to Princeton, 8-1, in the first round of the CSA Championships, the Crimson came back in its second day of competition to defeat Dartmouth by the same score, earning a chance to take on Cornell in the fifth-place match.
“We didn’t lose any ground,” Endresen said. “We finished fifth last year and fifth again this [year]. It was nice to not slip and to beat Cornell in our final match.”
The last victory of the season was especially sweet for Harvard, as the team had suffered a heartbreaking 7-2 upset at the hands of the Big Red in regular season play.
“We went [to Ithaca] thinking we were going to beat them right before [winter] break,” Endresen said. “We came back after New Year’s and trained very hard, hoping we would play them again. It was a crazy match.”
Another big match for the Crimson came against 13-time defending national champions Trinity. Although Harvard suffered a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Bantams, the three individual victories and many other close losses marked a vast improvement for the Crimson, which was swept, 9-0, in the previous season.
Power, freshman Tommy Mullaney, and junior William Ahmed picked up victories for Harvard, while four Crimson athletes took one game before dropping their respective individual matches.
“To only lose to Trinity, 6-3, and have a couple guys losing in four or five was really big for us,” Endresen said.
Harvard suffered a close defeat at the hands of rival and Ivy League Champion Yale, 7-2, as Power and Mullaney earned individual wins over the Bulldogs.
The Harvard team—which graduates just two seniors, Endresen and Richard Hill—looked to youth this season, with four freshmen playing in the top nine.
“We got really lucky this year with a strong recruiting class,” Power said. “And they’re good guys, too…The combined freshman had a great first year.”
The four freshmen—Power, Brandon McLaughlin, Nigel Koh, a Crimson business editor, and Mullaney—each earned winning percentages above the .600 mark on the year.
“With a team as small as ours and with only nine players scoring, having four freshman in the top nine is pretty significant,” Endresen said. “[As upperclassmen], we really tried to get them adjusted school-wise and help them balance that with squash, telling them it’s all worth it. It’s a draining season, and you have to be in it for the long haul.”
Senior leadership also played an integral part of the team’s success this season.
“I think the number one thing that helped us this season was [Hill] and [Endresen],” Power said. “They were always working hard and are the first ones in to practice…[Endresen} started out the year playing No. 5. He’s is a good example of how working hard, training really hard, and being healthy really help your game.”
—Staff writer Catherine E. Coppinger can be reached at email@example.com.
Crimson Cruises To Third-Straight WinIt was payback time as soon as the No. 5 Harvard men’s squash team stepped onto the courts in Hanover, N.H. last night.
Close Losses Undo Harvard ComebackThe Harvard men’s squash team’s quest for an undefeated season came to an end on Saturday, as the No. 5 Crimson (4-1) fell, 7-2, to No. 3 Rochester (5-2) after a series of close point-for-point matches ended in the Yellowjackets’ favor.
Road to Team Title Starts With Old Foe
Men's Squash Earns Pair of Wins
Harvard Squash Picks Up Pair of LossesThough the No. 5 Harvard men’s squash team (3-2, 2-1 Ivy) entered its weekend contests on a three-game undefeated streak, the Crimson suffered its first two losses of the season on the road against sixth-ranked Cornell (3-1, 2-1) and third-ranked Rochester (5-0, 3-0 Liberty League).
Squash Pitted Against Ivy TestAs the regular season draws to a close for squash teams across the country, the Harvard men and women will hit the road to take on Ivy League foes Penn and Princeton.