By ALEX NUNN from the Daily Princetonian
After several weeks off from matches for exam period, the men’s and women’s squash teams returned to the courts with full intensity this week. The most exciting result of the weekend came at Jadwin Gymnasium on Saturday, when the men defeated top-ranked Yale.
After a marginal 5-4 victory over Trinity last month that broke the Bantams’ 252-match win streak, the Bulldogs rose to the No. 1 spot in the national rankings, the first time in 13 years that any team has been ranked above Trinity. However, their position was short-lived, as the Tigers (10-1 overall, 5-0 Ivy League) upset Yale, coming away with a decisive 8-1 victory.
“Over the past few days, everyone was really focused on taking Yale down,” sophomore Dylan Ward said. “Last year, they beat us both in the regular season and unfortunately in the team championship, so we were looking for a little redemption.”
After a strenuous loss against Trinity in which Princeton dropped seven close matches, the Tigers were hoping to prove themselves against Yale.
“Everyone was really fired up for the match because it was for the lead in the Ivy League,” Ward said.
The Tigers approached the game with intensity right from the start, winning two of three matches in the first shift. Princeton immediately took the lead with wins from senior Clay Blackiston and freshman Tyler Osborne, both of whom won in three sets. Senior Chris Callis was the next to win at No. 2 when he took down Kenneth Chan, who usually plays No. 1 for Yale.
“We got off to a strong start, and that kind of set the tone for the match,” senior Kelly Shannon said. “We were one step ahead the rest of the day.”
After junior Steve Harrington won a close three-game match — which included a six-point rally after he trailed 8-2 in the final set — classmate Todd Harrity easily held serve at No. 1, dropping just five points total for Princeton’s fifth and decisive victory.
Shannon, who is still in the process of recovering from his shoulder injury, later won his match at No. 4 in the first shift. This had been Shannon’s fourth match back, and he said he is now able to play the entire match at full intensity, which looks good for Princeton’s future.
“Hopefully this injury is something that won’t be bothering me anymore,” Shannon said. “I don’t see myself missing any other important matches for the rest of this season.”
The win against Yale was especially crucial for Princeton because it means that the Tigers are in a good position to win the Ivy League title; they will earn at least a share of the championship with one victory in their final two matches against Cornell and Columbia. The Tigers have not won the Ivy League in three years, finishing second with close losses to Yale in each of the last two seasons.
The men’s victory revealed just how close the top three teams are. Within the Yale-Trinity-Princeton triangle, each team is 1-1. Coming back from their first loss of the season against Trinity, the Tigers keep their spirits up with this recent victory.
“This definitely gave us a big confidence boost,” Shannon said. “It cements in our minds that we can be a championship team. We got a taste of that after beating Harvard.”
“The win is definitely a good sign for our success, but it by no means guarantees it,” Shannon added.
The women (6-3, 2-3) had a less favorable result against second-ranked Yale, taking a 7-2 loss. Six of the seven individual matches that the women ended up losing went into more than three sets, revealing that the matches were close despite the end results. Sophomores Libby Eyre at No. 2 and Alex Sawin at No. 6 were the only Tigers to win their matches.
Both teams performed as expected against Brown on Sunday. The men’s team swept the No. 16 Bears; sophomore No. 6 Dylan Ward split the first two games but maintained his perfect record and came back to win his match in four, the only Tiger to lose a single game.
The women’s team also had a perfect sweep, defeating No. 10 Brown at each spot on the ladder. The Tigers did not concede a single game, reinforcing their position at No. 5 in the nation.