After falling prey to an overpowering St. Lawrence squad to end the regular season, the men’s squash team was faced with the task of mentally recuperating while fending off trophy-hungry programs in this weekend’s national championships hosted at Harvard University.
The team is the second-seeded squad in the highly contentious “C” division. In their quest for championship hardware, the Cards were stopped short in the semifinals by a vengeful Brown squad and ended up settling for third place in their division. With their 3rd place finish, the Cards will finish the season ranked 19th nationally.
The opening round’s contest with the Colby Camels was business as usual for the Birds as they picked up their third win of the season over their seventh-seeded opponents. The Cardinals cruised to their second 9-0 shutout victory over the Mules in 2014 with decisive 3-0 set wins from number one John Steele ’14, number two Guy Davidson ’16, number four Daniel Sneed ’15, and number 9 Alexander Kamisher ’17. Although the impressive final score did not come as a surprise for the team, reversing their most recent match may have been just what the Cardinals needed to boost themselves up for further tournament play.
“We weren’t too worried about Colby, as we had handled them well in the past few weeks [9-0 and 7-2], but we couldn’t look past that first match,” commented Captain Ethan Moritz ’16 in an email to The Argus. “We played well on Friday and came away with another 9-0 win, which was a solid statement at nationals. We knew past that match anyone we played would be very tough competition.”
Following Colby, the Cardinals would square against the third-seeded squad from Brown, which was evidently still sore from the 5-4 loss the team suffered the last time both squads met in December. Sadly, this time around, the Cardinals were not able to conjure the same streak-busting magic they used to upend their evenly-matched opponents; they fell by a similar 5-4 score line.
Despite a strong showing from the bottom half of the latter where number seven Chris Hart ’17, number eight Zander Nassikas ’14 and number nine Alexander Kamisher ’17 their opponents, it seemed as if it was just simply bad luck that got in the way of the Cardinals’ title hopes.
“Losing to Brown was really tough,” Hart said. “We had beaten them 5-4 earlier in the year, so we knew it would be really close this time. We lost some close matches, because, honestly I just don’t think the ball rolled our way in this one. It could have been won by either team, and it’s a shame we couldn’t pull it out. What was missing this time was the fact that we just didn’t win the close ones.”
Ending up in the match for third place against the squad from George Washington University, the Cardinals were resolute in their efforts to end their season with a victory. The Birds dispatched their D.C.-dwelling opponents by a 6-3 score. Newcomer Hart capped off his freshman season with another 3-0 win, reaching the 20-win mark for the season and setting a new Cardinals record to the delight of his captains.
“Chris Hart should be noted, as he had an incredible record this year, and was a very solid number 8 and 7 throughout the season,” Moritz said. “He could always be counted on to win his match.”
However, a young squash player wise beyond his freshman status, Hart recognizes that individual wins alone do not necessarily make for a complete season.
“I don’t have much to say about breaking the record for most wins,” Hart said. “I was made aware of the fact that I was close a week before the national tournament, so it had never really been a priority for me. I just wanted to help the team win no matter what it took. Obviously I am very happy, but it really wasn’t my main focus, and I would rather focus on the team success rather than my individual success.”
In addition to Hart’s record-breaking play, the Cardinals were greatly aided in their last match of the season by the final performance from their captain and four-year number one John Steele.
“John Steele’s performance against GW was outstanding, coming from 2-1 down to win in a very tight five-game match to complete his amazing four-year career here at Wesleyan in which he played number one in every one of his matches and came through in the clutch numerous times with impressive and dominant wins at number one, as one of the best players in the NESCAC,” said Moritz.
The Cardinals’ three senior captains, Steele, Moritz and Nassikas leave behind infinitely more than their already impressive 15-8 record suggests. Under their leadership the Cardinals managed to immediately incorporate and utilize their youth to cement a solid foundation for the years to come.