Thursday, April 18, 2024

Harvard’s Gina Kennedy aims for fourth College final

Yasser El Halaby, Gail Ramsay and Amanda Sobhy were four-midable foes
CSA Intercollegiate Individual Championship preview by RICHARD MILLMAN – Squash Mad Correspondent

The team cheers, heartbreaks, crazy celebrations, heroic comeback victories and soul destroying ‘almost wons’ are done for another season for both the men’s and the women’s teams, in the CSA Intercollegiate team championships.

But CSA College squash isn’t done yet, for the 2019-20 season. This weekend, in Philadelphia, in large part at University of Pennsylvania’s brilliantly refurbished Ringe courts, the best of the best, the top two players from each of the Intercollegiate community’s teams, will come together to play for the ultimate Intercollegiate individual crown, the Intercollegiate champion.

Harvard’s Gina Kennedy and Victor Crouin are top seeds this weekend

In terms of the elusive four consecutive year champion’s laurels, the women are superior to the men in this regard. Names such as Zaharko, McConnell, Holleran, Beaver, and Kennedy have attained extraordinary heights in winning three Intercollegiate titles.

But standing out among all Intercollegiate players is first Penn State’s Gail Ramsay – the first player man or women to win four consecutive Intercollegiate championships. Second among the women is Harvard’s Amanda Sobhy who recently equalled Ramsay’s feat.

This year Georgina Kennedy, another Harvard woman, aims to reach her fourth final, but she lost in her first, so she won’t be challenging the record.

To see the history of the women’s Intercollegiate individual championships, follow this link: https://csasquash.com/about/champions/

Harvard colleagues Ali Farag and Amanda Sobhy

As for the men …

Names to conjure with such Vehslage, Nayar, Jernigan, Desaulnier, Stanley, Ezra, have won the men’s three times out of four, but only one has won the ultimate – four years in a row – Princeton’s Yasser El Halaby .

It couldn’t have happened in the early years because Freshmen (first year players) often weren’t allowed to play on the Varsity (older students) team.

But even in the age of Ali Farag, the elusive fourth title still stands out there beckoning to all but the amazing El Halaby (please see comment below with the list of his titles and opponents).

Perhaps l’incroyable Victor Crouin might be the second.

To review the history back to the first winner of this event, Beekman Pool, follow this link

Yasser El Halaby won four titles for Princeton from 2003 to 2006

A final word.

As the Intercollegiate organization has evolved into the dynamic, world-class organization it is today, the coaches and athletic departments concluded that it was necessary to form a professional administration to more fully advance and streamline the development of the organization.

Hence the CSA – College Squash Association was formed and David Poolman, was appointed as its executive director.

In a highly charged atmosphere, where youthful enthusiasm combined with the American addiction to winning at all costs, must be carefully guided; David Poolman has done a wonderful job of both walking a sometimes fine line to maintain fairness and at the same time brought the organization into the modern era of Livestream coverage, Social Media, International recruiting, rising costs and integration with US Squash – the most progressive governing body in World Squash.

So, as we watch the genius of the young rising stars, the champions that may continue into the ranks of the pros and those seniors for whom this is their last hurrah, spare a thought for David Poolman, Executive Director of the CSA, who is quietly guiding the ship that is the most vital heart of American squash, whilst moving quietly and effectively in the background to ensure safe sailing.

Four-times winners Amanda Sobhy (Harvard) and Gail Ramsay (Princeton)

 

Pictures courtesy of College Squash Association 

 

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