The men’s squash team competed this weekend in the Summers Cup, the “C” division of the College Squash Association’s National Championships. Seeded fourth in an eight-team bracket, the Cardinals finished as predicted.
The Cards’ quarterfinals matchup was against fifth-seeded Colby. Prior to their playoff encounter, the Cards had bested Colby twice this season in a pair of 5-4 victories. This match proved to be yet another tough battle between stiff NESCAC opponents. Guy Davidson ’16, David Sneed ’17, Zach Roach ’17, and Grant Lounsbury ’17 put four convincing wins up for the Cards, but the Mules took four of their own, so the match rode on the final game, a matchup at the fourth spot between Chris Hart ’17 and Colby’s Patrick McCarthy.
As a large and rowdy crowd gathered around this deciding match, Hart nicked out two tight games, putting himself up 2-0 and in a great position to clinch the victory. However, McCarthy refused to go down easy, and fought his way back to 2-2. Hart trailed early in the fifth but persevered to 9-9, fended off three match points, and dramatically took the game and the match by a score of 14-12. The crowd went wild and the Cardinals stormed the court, mobbing the victorious Hart.
“It was a really pressured situation because I went on when it was 4-4, so I knew it was going to come down to my match,” said Hart. “I was a little more anxious going out, but I knew that our season would have been a waste if we lost in the first round of Nationals, so I went into the match knowing that losing wasn’t going to be an option. In the match I went up two, but I was really tired, and he’s a great player, and all of the sudden it was the fifth game, and I didn’t know how I was going to win the match for the team. It turned really physical, but I came out with the win.”
Hart commented on the win’s effects on the team.
“I’ve never felt better about a squash match in my whole life,” Hart said. “That match was a big win for our team, and I think that winning it picked some of the kids up on the team who had had a bad day.”
Still alive, the Birds advanced to the semifinals, where Middlebury awaited them. Having twice lost narrowly to the Panthers already this season, the Cardinals knew that this was their big chance for victory. Lounsbury and Alex Kamisher ’17 lost two of the first matches in epic five-gamers, and the Cards could not find enough wins to recover.
Kamisher’s match was probably the most exciting of the contest, as he dominated his Middlebury opponent Wyatt French for portions of the match, and had a few match point chances in the fifth game that slipped away. The pair traded long and exciting squash points, and French, who has been dominant in the NESCAC this year, converted his only match point of the contest to spoil a valiant effort from Kamisher. Needless to say, the next meeting between these two will be a must-see.
After this slow start, the match was always in Middlebury’s hands. Still the Cards placed three victories on the board, with Daniel Sneed ’15 joining Davidson and Hart. Both Sneed and Davidson won in five, while Hart, riding high off his match-winning Colby result, took his opponent in three.
Knocked out in the semifinals, Wesleyan next matched up against second-seeded Brown University in a battle for third place. Without their number two, Brown was notably short-handed but still managed to fend off the Cards 6-3. Both Hart and Davidson swept their opponents, rounding off 3-0 weekends for them. Mike DeLalio ’15 also took his match in three. Again, the Cards lost two matches in five games, which swung the match in Brown’s direction. Both Lounsbury and Sneed pushed their opponents to the final game, but they couldn’t quite snag the victory.
The Cardinals ended the tournament on seed in fourth place, with a 13-9 dual-match record. They will remain 20th in the country and fifth in the NESCAC. Although this was the last team competition of the season, a few members of the team are expected to compete in the CSA National Individual Championships, which will be held at Princeton University next weekend.