Garnet squash falls to Haverford in rivalry match

The Haverford men’s squash team got the best of its Swarthmore rival on Saturday, defeating them by a score of 7-2 from the Gooding Integrated Athletic Center.

In a series of nine singles matches, the Fords (3-13) piled up four consecutive victories and won the first five of six to clinch the win before the Garnet (8-6) won its only two matches.

Swarthmore subsequently dropped the ninth match as well as the exhibition match that went uncounted.

“[Haverford] was more consistent about hitting deep,” James Bannon ’12 said. “They had a more consistent game plan that they were able to stick to.”

Haverford came out swinging early, dropping only one game collectively in the first four matches. The Fords’ Alex Spillotes started things off with a 3-0 defeat of team captain Tarit Rao-Chakravorti ’12 (11-6, 11-7, 11-6). Garnet senior Joravar Dhaliwal put up a fight against Andy McComas but ultimately fell to him 3 games to 1 (11-2, 11-4, 13-15, 11-9). In the next match, Zef konst handily defeated Swarthmore’s Sudarshan Gopaladesikan ’14 (11-2, 11-2, 11-1), followed by an equally dominant performance by Chris Tyson, who allowed just seven points against James Bannon ’12 (11-1, 11-2, 11-4).

Garnet senior Manuk Garg ’12 finally broke through for Swarthmore with a 3-0 sweep of Haverford’s Robbie Thompson (11-6, 11-6, 12-10). Two matches later, after Charlie Michele swept Faraz Hayat ‘14 (11-4, 11-5, 11-3), Colin Smith ’14 outlasted the Fords’ Harry Gallway in an epic five-game match. Despite trailing two games to one, Smith rallied back to tie and then defeat Gallway with a 26-point fifth game to win 3-2 (7-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 14-12).

“The match was really intense,” Smith said. “I just picked up squash my freshman year, and I knew this was a varsity guy, who had probably been recruited, but I surprised myself in the first game. I was able to keep with him much better than I thought. I used a lot of drops, and I guess I didn’t play the most graceful game of squash, but I was able to hunt down his shots.”

Unfortunately for Swarthmore, that dramatic victory would prove to be the final one on the day. Haverford’s David Chang followed up Smiths win by beating Ben Mercado ’14 in four games (11-1, 10-12, 11-5, 13-11).

In the ninth match, Zeek Barnett also outlasted first-year Jason Hua ‘15 in a four-game match to win with scores of 11-4, 5-11, 11-5, 11-8), thereby giving his team seven of the nine singles victories on the day.

In an exhibition match that was not counted toward the final tally, Jonathan Nguyen swept Garnet first-year Harshil Sahai ’15 3-0 (11-9, 11-5, 11-2).

“Though the score doesn’t reflect it, the match really could have gone either way,” Hua said. “All in all, we put up a good fight but came up short against a very talented team. It’s a tough loss, but every last man played his heart out on Saturday.”

Despite the loss to Haverford, the Garnet squash team remains one of the best-kept secrets of Swarthmore athletics, their exposure largely marginalized due to the focus on the school’s established varsity sports.

Though their record is a middling 8-6, Swarthmore has defeated varsity clubs such as Purdue and Notre Dame and Fordham to rank 50th in the country in just their third season of existence.

The team mixes experience and young talent, with eight players returning from last year along with five newcomers.

“This is our strongest year,” Bannon said. “We have a core of young kids who are improving.”

The team also gives credit to a stronger coaching presence than they had previously experienced. In the position of head coach is Paul Frank, Director of Squash for the Fairmount Athletic Club (currently serving as the team’s de facto home base) in King of Prussia.

However, also working with the team is Lyall Patterson, a member of the Scottish national team.

Swarthmore will take on the squash club from the University of Pennsylvania this Saturday.

The season culminates with the Collegiate Squash Association Team Championship, held from February 17th to February 19th at the University of Pennsylvania.

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