Men's Squash | Tufts players compete in first annual Individual Championships
Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 08:02
After failing to win a game at the NESCAC tournament the weekend of Jan. 31, the men’s squash team had a chance to get back on track against Northeastern before its top-three players competed in the College Squash Association Individual Championships.
Although the team lost 5-4, it was an important match to help sophomore Aditya Advani, junior Zach Schweitzer and freshman Josh Lee prepare for the Individual Championships.
Unlike most tournaments, the Div. III Individual Championships have schools send their top-three players to compete individually, creating a different atmosphere from the typical team dynamic.
“Playing in an individual tournament allows me to meet new players or catch up with players I have played with before because we don’t have the obligation to stick with the team during team matches,” Lee said.
This is the second year that the Div. III Individual Championships have been scheduled, but last year the tournament was cancelled due to a blizzard, so this was the first time the championships was held.
Most collegiate-level squash players have some experience playing in individual tournaments before coming to school, however.
“I always played individual tournaments in India so this tournament puts me in that mindset of playing just for myself,” Advani said. “I cannot blame any result on anyone but myself so it was refreshing to play this individual tournament.”
Advani used his prior experience well, because not only was he the sole Tufts player to get out of the first round, but he also reached the finals of the second round consolation tournament.
After taking out sophomore Caran Arora of Bates in his first match, Advani was slated to play against Bowdoin senior Stephan Danyluk. Already having lost to Danyluk twice this year, the match gave Advani another chance at redemption.
After a close four-game victory in November, Danyluk beat Advani for the second time just over a week ago in the first round of the NESCAC Championships. Danyluk appears to have Advani’s number, as he beat the Tufts No. 1 for the third time this year.
“I played Danyluk for the third time and lost to him for the third time, but I did decent in consolation and finished 10th overall,” Advani said. “Danyluk is just an extremely fit player and he has great strokes too. He just has the capability to outrun me on the court. He’s very fit.”
The other players to compete in the Individual Championships, Schweitzer and Lee, both bowed out in the first round of the main draw.
Schweitzer competed alongside Advani in the Men’s A Division. He found Williams senior Taylor Foehl too difficult to handle and lost in three tight games: 11-8, 11-10, 11-8.
Schweitzer regrouped to win the first round of the consolation tournament 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 before falling to Bates freshmen Darrius Campbell.
In his first season on the team, Lee played mostly at No. 2 and No. 3 during the regular season and was simply grateful to have made it all the way to the Individual Championships, where he won in the first round of the consolation draw.
“Representing Tufts at the Individual Championships was definitely a unique experience,” Lee said. “Even though I couldn’t win my draw, I am happy to have picked up a win during the Individual Championships.”
For his first round match in the main draw, Lee tried to prepare as well as he could. He drew a familiar foe, sophomore Yuga Koda from 23rd ranked Colby.
“I keep a simple routine before stepping into every match,” Lee said. “I pray before each match that God would give me the strength to play fair and to the best of my ability. I didn’t feel much pressure playing against Yuga [Koda] because we knew each other from previous matches and tournaments.”
While he was unable to win his match against Koda, Lee came close to beating the eventual finalist in his last game.
“I lost the final game in a tiebreak against him, but I wasn’t too disappointed because he played very well and made it all the way to the finals of my draw,” Lee said.
Lee said he looks forward to playing at the CSA Team Championships and he believes that the Individual Championships were good preparation.
“To be invited to play against the top players as a freshman was definitely a privilege, as it gave me an opportunity to prepare well before the Nationals Tournament held at Boston this year,” Lee said.
The CSA Team Championships start on Friday and will be held at Harvard, where many familiar foes, including Boston College and Northeastern, will be playing. Both BC and Northeastern, who have defeated Tufts earlier this year, are seeded higher than Tufts, and the team is looking at past losses against these teams as motivation.
“We’re all looking forward to nationals,” Advani said. “Both BC and Northeastern are teams in our draw that we lost to early in the season, so we are looking forward at getting another shot at these teams. Hopefully we can do better this time around.”