Men's Squash Aims For National Title

It’s always intense when a Crimson squad pays a visit to New Haven. The rivalry is a particularly central one in squash, as the two schools have combined to win 41 of the 68 national championships in the collegiate history of the sport.

Both teams will get a chance to add another as the Harvard men’s squash team (15-2, 6-1 Ivy) travels to the home of its foe to attempt to build on Monday’s triumph.

The rivalry recently heated up as the College Squash Association Team Championships come on the heels of an unsuccessful voyage to Cambridge on the part of this year’s hosts. The match, which pitted the Crimson against the Bulldogs (11-3, 5-2), ultimately decided which one-loss squad would go on to share the Ivy League title distinction with Princeton.

“We are really confident coming off a win,” co-captain Zeke Scherl said. “I really just think everyone needs to execute their game plans.”

With a national championship on the line, the squad will look to stay disciplined.


“Early mileage in this tournament has been tough for us in the past,” Scherl said. “We don’t want anyone expending unnecessary energy.”

Having won its last four conference matchups, Harvard will come into the tournament as the third-ranked team in the nation behind Trinity and the Tigers. The latter is currently looking to defend its national championship.

The two schools handed the Crimson each of its 5-4 losses thus far this season.

Yale will get a chance to avenge itself on its home turf in the Potter Cup, or “A division,” which features the top eight teams in the country in a single elimination bracket.

Other schools in contention include Cornell, Franklin and Marshall College, and St. Lawrence University.

As the three seed, Harvard will take on sixth-seeded Rochester in the first round.

“The first match is crucial,” Scherl said. “We are really focused on getting on and off the court. I think we can beat this team 9-0 if everyone comes out and plays their best squash.”

Should it survive the test, the Crimson would likely get a second shot at a defending national champion Princeton squad that it lost to in a heartbreaker on the road earlier this season.

“The best thing that could happen [on Friday] is to get another chance to battle it out against Princeton,” Scherl said. “I think the match would definitely have a different feel about it if we were to get through our first match against Rochester.”

After the 5-4 loss to the Tigers in mid-January, the team found a way to turn it around, emerging victorious in eight of its subsequent nine matches.

“I think the guys will look back in reflection at the Princeton match,” Harvard coach Mike way said. “That moment sort of changed the attitude.”

The only loss suffered thereafter came against the Bantams, a squad that the Crimson has not found a way to down in its last 23 attempts.

“We’ve had good results against some of the competitors out there,” Scherl said.

Harvard’s top performers include junior Ali Farag. The junior hasn’t been seriously challenged all season, dropping not a single match all year playing in the No. 1 position.

Scherl and fellow co-captain Jason Michas have also been a key part of the squad’s success this campaign. Scherl and Michas have combined for 19 wins on the season, including the clincher against Yale this past Monday in front of the home fans.

The Crimson was dropped in the semi-finals of this tournament a year ago to the traditionally dominant group from Trinity by the score of 3-6.

The Bantams were crowned champion in 13 consecutive seasons before being upset last year by Princeton.

This season, Harvard has a checkered record against the top teams in the nation, taking three of five team and 25 of 45 individual matches from squads ranked inside the top eight.

“I don’t think anyone has a bye to the finals this year, so to speak,” said Scherl, referring to the top four seeds, Trinity, the Tigers, Harvard and the Bulldogs, respectively, expected to make the semis.

At least in the eyes of the coach, one key difference this time around should play to the Crimson’s advantage.

“Last year a couple of times we felt like we had a team of teenage boys,” Way said. “This is a team of young men.”

—Staff writer Daniel A. Grafstein can be reached at


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