Despite strong performances from its top players, the men’s squash team fell to Boston College 6-3 on Wednesday night, in a matchup of the 35th and 33rd ranked teams in the country.
Sophomore Aditya Advani and junior co-captain Zachary Schweitzer continued their brilliant run in the new year, both coasting to straight-game victories, 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 and 11-5, 11-8, 11-6, respectively. The wins brought their 2014 individual records to 7-1 each, even though the team posted just a 3-5 record in the same time period.
After spending the fall semester abroad, Schweitzer’s return has been a huge boost for the Jumbos – both in terms of wins and team motivation.
“It’s had a huge, positive impact having Zach back.” Advani said. “He’s one of our captains and top players. I think everyone has been really motivated and working especially hard at practice since he got back.”
Having another veteran in the locker room was key to the team’s improvement after a disappointing a 1-8 record started the season.
“When I was gone, Elliot [Kardon] was the only junior, having played three years on the team.” Schweitzer said. “I think having some senior guys back, like me and Hugo [Meggit], has really helped everyone.”
Unfortunately for the Jumbos, No. 3 player Josh Lee, a freshman, couldn’t play in the Boston College match because of injury.
The players responded well, but ultimately fell short in several close matches. Kardon replaced Lee at No. 3, taking the first game against Boston College, but could not hold onto the lead, losing the final three games 5-11, 10-12, and 6-11.
Sophomore Brandon Weiss played in the No. 4 position for Tufts, and similarly played four games, battling to win the third game 11-9 after dropping the first two 5-11 and 7-11. Weiss could not build on the momentum of the win, falling in the decisive fourth game, 6-11.
“I honestly think we could have won, especially if we had Josh,” Advani said. “People were pretty upset, mostly for him. Not having our No. 3 was tough, and it became a lot harder for the team having to play tougher competition than expected.”
The third and last Tufts victory came from Meggitt, who, like Schweitzer, was also abroad last semester. The junior defeated Boston College in the No. 5 slot in four hotly contested sets: 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, and 11-8.
“It was a hard last semester without Zach and Hugo.” Advani said. “We’ve been playing some really tough teams, so it’s nice to have two of our better players back.”
After a rough start to the season, the Jumbos have been working hard to step up their game.
“I’ve been really impressed so far.” Schweitzer said. “I know some of the guys hadn’t played competitive squash before the season began, but they’ve been picking up the basics really quickly. In the past our team has had a tendency to peak late in the season, so hopefully we can get similar performances late this year.”
With the Boston College match behind them, the team focuses their attention on this weekend’s NESCAC tournament at Hamilton College. The Jumbos are guaranteed at least three matches, starting with the number six seed, 19th ranked Bowdoin College, in a match slated for Friday night at 7 p.m.
The two teams met earlier in the season, with the Polar Bears easily dispatching the Jumbos 9-0. Advani had one of his more disappointing results of the season in this matchup, losing to the Bowdoin No.1 player Stephan Danyluk 11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 11-9.
“Hopefully I can play better and get a better result this time around,” Advani said.
The Jumbos also played that Nov. 21 match without Schweitzer, Meggit or Lee, who all aim to play a significant role in the outcome during this matchup.
“Bowdoin is going to be tough.” Schweitzer said. “I was surprised to see that Aditya had lost to the Bowdoin No. 1 last time, but with Hugo and myself playing this time, along with Josh who should be back from injury, I think we’ll have a pretty good chance.”