Although it occurred only two days after an 8-1 loss to No. 1 Trinity, the No. 3 Harvard men’s squash team’s sweep at No. 11 Amherst last night couldn’t have been more different from its match with the Bantams at the Murr Center Saturday afternoon.
The Crimson (5-1, 3-0 Ivy) dominated the Lord Jeffs (6-5) from the outset, refusing to concede even a single game and using the match as little more than a tuneup for its contest against No. 2 Princeton on Sunday. Against Trinity, Harvard had to fight for every point and ultimately dropped several close matches.
Knowing Amherst was a lesser opponent, the Crimson players struggled to motivate themselves for the match.
“It’s tough,” co-captain Dylan Patterson said. ‘You travel two hours, get off the bus and all of a sudden you have to play a team that you’re supposed to blow away.”
Harvard, which hadn’t played an away match since mid-December, took advantage of the opportunity to reestablish a routine for road contests in preparation for its trip to No. 8 Penn and Princeton this weekend.
The “closest” match of the evening came at No. 7, where co-captain Thomas Storch wore Brian Lawrence down in winning the first game 10-9 before cruising to 9-0 and 9-4 victories in the next two games, respectively.
“He’s a real gritty player,” sophomore Gaurav Yadav said of Storch. “His whole game is about grinding out his opponent, making him work really hard and tiring him out.”
At No. 8, Yadav beat Asad Haque 9-1, 9-2, 9-7. The Crimson sophomore controlled play throughout, spending the match experimenting with different shots in an effort to prepare for the Tigers.
“You can make a match as hard as you want,” Yadav said. “I was not trying to finish off the match, but I was trying to practice some shots which I would use in certain situations in the Princeton match.”
Harvard sophomore Asher Hochberg, the intercollegiate No. 26, avenged the only defeat the Crimson suffered against the Lord Jeffs last year, beating David Bauer 9-0, 9-1, 9-5 at No. 5. Bauer beat David Barry ’02 in the same slot last year, 9-6, 9-0, 10-8.
Sophomore No. 3 Mike Blumberg, who registered the lone Harvard victory against the Bantams, continued to roll, defeating Carlo Valdesolo 9-2, 9-2, 9-1.
But it was junior Ziggy Whitman who notched the most dominating win of the day, taking the No. 6 match 9-2, 9-0, 9-0 over Nick Haslett.
The Crimson will now spend the next three days training intensely before taking on the Quakers and the Tigers this weekend.
Penn features intercollegiate No. 12 Richard Repetto, but its lack of depth has Harvard considering it another warm-up match of sorts.
“If Penn was hard, we wouldn’t have scheduled it one day before Princeton,” Yadav said.
The Tigers, though, are the favorites to win the Ivy League, if not the national championship. But a Crimson victory would put it in the driver’s seat heading into its regular-season finale against Yale Feb. 19.
—Staff writer Alan G. Ginsberg can be reached at email@example.com.
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