The men’s squash team heads into the NESCAC tournament with a disappointing weekend of losses behind it. On Saturday Jan. 31, Tufts traveled to Harvard to take on one of its toughest rivals, Colby. Unfortunately, the Jumbos fell to the White Mules with a match score ending in 8-1. The Jumbos’ one win came from junior tri-captain Aditya Advani at the first position, winning in a very close four games 11-4, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9.
“This win definitely makes me a little more confident going into NESCACs,”Advani said, “I’m hoping it translates and I can perform the same way this weekend.”
Heading into their match on Sunday against Connecticut College, Tufts did not feel too discouraged by its loss against Colby.
“Conn. College is more on our level, so that was always our focus,” sophomore Owen Elliot said, “That didn’t change much even after losing to Colby on Saturday.”
Both times the Jumbos have faced the Camels, they haven’t performed their best. Tufts faced Conn. College earlier in the season, losing to them in a close match 5-4. However, their most recent match was a much more decisive loss, as they had difficulty adjusting to the slow pace of the Camel’s home turf. The match ended 9-0 for the Camels.
“The courts at Conn. College are very different from usual courts, and they take a little while getting used to,” Advani said, “I think it was just a bad day for us, and we will bounce back next time.”
In the first position, Advani won his first game against senior Brian Mullen, but ended up losing in a close four games. In the second position, first-year Braden Chiulli took his match to five games; however, he was unable to close it out, falling in the fifth game 11-4.
“We aren’t too concerned about this most recent loss to Conn. College,” senior tri-captain Elliot Kardon said, “We are confident that we can beat them this coming weekend at NESCACs if we see them.”
The Jumbos are excited about their chances at NESCACs held at Williams College as their number two player, senior Zach Schweitzer, will be returning from an ankle injury in time for NESCACs next weekend. With Schweitzer back in the lineup, everyone will move down a spot on the ladder, bringing back the depth that the Jumbos once had.
With NESCACs on the horizon, the Jumbos believe that they have a true shot at doing well, but they are managing their expectations and have realistic goals. The Jumbos know how tough the squash competition is in the NESCAC, and feel they are lucky to be able to compete against their incredibly difficult opponents.
“Going in as the last ranked team is definitely going to be a tough draw, but I think if the team plays their best … We can pull out some crucial wins to help improve our ranking,” Advani said.
Specifically, the Jumbos feel good about their chances in knocking off Hamilton and Conn. College while at Williams. The Jumbos are going to emphasize high intensity throughout their final practices leading up to NESCACs. Determined to prove themselves at NESCACs, they have been working hard and practicing even throughout the recent snow blizzards.
Advani said that the key for the Jumbos is for “everyone to believe in themselves and the team. Everyone needs to go on court believing that they can win no matter who they are playing, and then just have fun out there playing the game.”
In addition, it is crucial for the team to make sure everyone remains healthy and injury-free. During matches the Jumbos want to focus on fighting for every point and playing with immense intensity and focus.
As important as NESCACs are for the Jumbos, the team is already looking forward to nationals as the NESCAC tournament won’t have a huge bearing on where they finish their season ranked. The most important thing for the Jumbos is to do well in their bracket at nationals.
“We want to either win the E division at nationals or compete well in the D division,” Kardon said. This year, nationals are being held just down the road in Hartford, so the Jumbos are hoping to get a lot of fan support.