After a string of difficult matches in which the men’s squash team struggled to find its form, their three matches this past weekend were a vital chance to a tune?up before the NESCAC Championships next weekend.
Needing positivity to take from the weekend, the Tufts finally got back to their winning ways at the end of the weekend with a win against No. 33 MIT, 6?3. But that win only came after two difficult losses to No. 19 Bowdoin, 8?1, and No. 24 Colby, 6?3, earlier in the day.
“We were outmatched against Colby and Bowdoin,” Sophomore Elliot Kardon said. “But we showed how [far] we have come as a team following those up with a great win against MIT. After defeating MIT 5?3 earlier in the season, a rematch of the closely contested matchup was expected to be a struggle, especially considering the Jumbos’ 6?game losing skid. But the Jumbos gave an inspired performance, which Kardon sees as a very encouraging sign going forward.
“We beat MIT at the beginning of the season,” he said. “And after a tough two previous matches, we knew we needed to have the victory. The team was very encouraged after such a good win.” Tufts was led from the top, with freshman No. 1 Aditaya Advani and junior co?captain No. 2 Jeremy Ho winning 11?4, 11?6, 11?5 and 11?4, 4?11, 11?9, 11?6, respectively. The Jumbos’ four other wins came from their No. 5 through No. 8 players, with freshmen Brandon Weiss and Aaron Fernandez, Kardon and junior Ben Briggs each picking up comfortable, straight set victories.
The mid?ladder wins came from a group boosted by strong showings, even in defeat, against Bowdoin and Colby. Though they failed to earn any match victories to, Kardon, Hernandez and Briggs each took a game off of their Mules counterpart.
“The middle of the lineup stepped up our game, which bodes very well for next weekend.” Kardon said. “And for me, it was a really big step getting a game against a tough NESCAC opponent.”
The success was especially impressive, as Tufts is still missing their No. 2, sophomore Zachary Schweitzer, pushing everyone up the ladder while increasing the difficulty of the opposition.
“Our team is very even, up and down the lineup,” Sophomore No. 3 Hugo Meggitt said. “I feel we have a lot of depth; it’s great having a good core of players in the middle.” With Schweitzer expected to return this weekend, Meggitt expects a huge boost for the team, and hopes to continue to see improvement from matches against such elite opposition.
“Playing top players has helped me improve a lot,” Meggitt said. “I think it will be a big help for the team going forward, because, with Zach coming back, we’ll all be going down playing relatively easier opponents.”
The highlight match of the weekend was once again provided by Advani, who defeated the Bowdoin senior No. 1 Andrew Hilboldt in a stirring back?and?forth, five?set affair, 11?7, 10?12, 12?10, 16?14.
“He’s brilliant to watch, and always so composed on the court,” Meggitt said of Advani. “At his best, he seems to be toying with other team’s best players. We’re lucky to have him, and hopefully he can continue going forward.”
The team will find out their first opponent in the NESCAC tournament in the next few days.
With an inevitably tough draw ahead after going winless in conference, the team is staying cautiously optimistic.
“Our realistic goal is to take one match and move up in the rankings,” Meggitt said. “This weekend was a major improvement and a real confidence booster, so hopefully we can bring that into next weekend.”