The men’s squash team will play Colby on Friday morning in the first match of the Summers Cup, the “C” division of the national championship, at the Rosenbaum Squash Center. Ranked fourth in the draw, the Cards will be attempting their third win against the fifth-ranked Mules this season. If they are successful, they will play Middlebury or Amherst in the semifinals at home on Saturday. A win in that match will put them in the finals on Sunday at Trinity against the winner from the other side of the bracket.
The Argus caught up with Raheem Logan ’16, the team’s number-two. Logan went into detail about the weekend, the season, and the team’s mindset.
The Argus: How does the team look going into nationals?
Raheem Logan: The team looks really good. We’re playing some of the best squash across the board. We’re all pretty healthy. Everyone is looking good. From Grant [Lounsbury ’17] to Z[achary Roach ’17], the progress is showing. It’s just a matter of showing up and doing what we’ve got to do. We’re hoping to just ride the momentum and just make some noise this weekend. I’m super excited.
A: Your first match is against Colby and you’ve played them twice already. How will that factor in?
RL: One of the hardest things to do is to beat somebody multiple times because teams make adjustments. And the people who won can almost feel a sense of comfort. But they’re going to come back hungrier than ever. And the thing about Nationals is that you get one match per day, so it’s not a huge physical toll, and you’re getting their best shot. So we just need to make sure that we come with it and don’t underestimate them. We beat them at NESCACs missing two players, but we also only beat them 5-4 with our full lineup, so anything could happen.
A: Having beaten them twice, are you thinking beyond the Colby match?
RL: I’m thinking beyond it a little bit, but then I check myself because you have to take it one match at a time. We could assume that we’re playing Middlebury if we win, but they could get upset, or we could lose, and then there’s a whole unraveling that has to go on. I think it’s just a matter of taking it day by day. Regardless of if we win or lose we’ll have the rest of the day Friday to wrap our heads around what the next step is. But you don’t want to lose, and we have to play with the confidence that we’re going to win, rather than going in not wanting to lose.
A: For you personally, what do you see your role as this weekend, and what are your goals?
RL: I think my role is to just be an anchor and continue to push the kids that I’m playing as well as be a spark plug for the team. Nationals is a crazy setting, and we just have to make sure we control what we can control and not worry about all the external influences, because it’s loud, and there’s so many people there, so I think my job is to just help make sure that we’re focused on squash while we’re here. It’s easy to get a little sidetracked, and we need to make sure that the only thing we’re focused on is squash and stay in our own little bubble throughout the weekend. No one outside is going to help you when you’re on that squash court.
A: How important is it to be playing at home?
RL: Super important. Of course, we would love to be in the “B” division playing higher up, but this is where we are, this is our setting; and we’re going to take full advantage of it. It’s not something that we should relax upon, but rather something that we should feed off. We should be motivated by trying to protect our home turf. And I’m assuming we’re going to get a whole bunch of support, and we need to ride that and just stay focused, of course, but there’s no reason why any of us should be feeling uncomfortable or unfamiliar. But at the end of the day, it’s just squash. Anybody on their given day can be beaten or beat somebody. You have to make sure that you don’t fall victim to getting upset or if you’re not projected to win, or seeded lower, that you ignore that. Seeds in this tournament don’t matter. It’s who can come out…and play their best squash. And just one individual effort won’t be enough. As a team we need to get five, and we need to strategize each person’s match to make sure that we get as many as we can.
A: Nationals aside, how has this year been for the men’s squash team?
RL: I think it’s been pretty amazing. We’ve gotten super tight as a result of winter break and just battling through the injuries that we’ve had this year. That adversity has helped us and primed us to be ready for this run that we’re about to make over the course of this weekend. Players have had to play above their initial positions, which raises their level of squash. The good thing that I’ve seen is once the ladder gets back to normal, people’s level of squash doesn’t drop back down. It’s been really encouraging to see that.
A: Last question. Who is your squash idol?
RL: I think it’s one of our alums, John Steele [’14]. The way he played and the grace that he had, win or lose, and how mentally composed he was despite everything. He was always calm and gracious, win or lose. He just never seemed to let his emotions get the best of him, and I really looked up to him. I still talk to him to this day, and his mental composure has definitely benefitted me in my rise on the ladder and keeping track of my emotions because he always told me the ability is there, and it’s just a matter of just staying in control and taking care of what I can control.