Men’s squash capped off their 2015-2016 team season by winning the Chaffee Cup at the CSA Team Championships this past weekend.
The final two weeks of the season saw Tufts put together an impressive comeback series after a dismal showing at the NESCAC Championships on Feb. 5 to 6. The Jumbos exited the tournament without a win, suffering a string of losses that dealt their confidence a serious blow. Tufts suffered a blowout 9-0 loss to Amherst in the opening round of the tournament and then fell in close matches to Conn. College and Hamilton — both teams they could and probably should have beaten — in the consolation rounds.
The Jumbos kicked off their comeback run just a few days later on Feb. 9 with a much-needed 9-0 statement win over the Brandeis Judges at the Belmont Hill courts to regain their confidence, and then followed it up with an 8-1 win at Boston University two days later. The following Saturday, Feb. 13, Tufts topped both Vassar College and Bard College in back-to-back wins but fell to Wesleyan as the team went 2-1 in a three-match series in Middletown. The No. 19 Cardinals presented the biggest challenge for the Jumbos since the NESCAC tournament, and the Jumbos’ run was unceremoniously interrupted by the 9-0 loss in their first game of the day.
Later that day, the Jumbos returned to the form they had shown the previous week to restart their run. Bouncing back with a resounding 9-0 win over the Vassar Brewers, eight out of nine Jumbos won their match-ups in three games. Sophomore Braden Chiulli and first-years Aidan Porges and Imran Trehan all impressed in quick three game matches, with Trehan only allowing his opponent seven points out of the 40 played. Adding to the first-years’ contributions, Brett Raskopf also won his match in three games after a hard-fought and grueling first game that ended 16-14. The team’s captain and lone upperclassman in the lineup, junior Danny Fischer, took his match to five games but ultimately claimed a victory for the Jumbos in the eighth position.
The resounding win against Vassar allowed Tufts to move into its third match against Bard with renewed confidence, although the match proved somewhat more challenging. Though the Jumbos were able to secure the 8-1 win, many players were forced into arduous four or five game matches. First-year Matt Memmo played five games against Bard’s Vikramaditya Joshi before securing a win, 11-13, 11-9, 11-13, 12-10, 11-9. Porges and Chiulli were both forced into four-game matches, though were both able to defeat their opponents and avoid playing a fifth game. Trehan, Raskopf and Fischer, meanwhile, had much smoother straight-games wins in the third, fourth and eighth positions. Playing in the No. 5 position, sophomore Alec Goodrich played a difficult five-set match against Abe Etkin, ultimately losing 12-14, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9. The loss did not change the result though, as the Jumbos downed the Bard Raptors 8-1. The wins gave the Jumbos some momentum as they headed into the final team competition with the CSA Team Nationals this past weekend.
Hosted by Yale University, the Team Nationals was the team’s most anticipated event all season. The Jumbos entered at a fortuitous time having gone 4-1 in the week and a half leading up to it. Ranked No. 33 in the latest poll, Tufts competed for the Chaffee Cup in the tournament’s E Division, reserved for the teams ranked No. 33 through No. 40 nationally.
In the opening match against No. 40 Lehigh University on Friday, Tufts finished strong with a 9-0 win. Though hard-fought, the match against Lehigh allowed Tufts to stretch their muscles in the beginning of the tournament. Chiulli and Memmo were standouts, with Chiulli overwhelming his Lehigh opponent Max Liu 11-3, 11-2, 11-5. Memmo played a tough third game against Lehigh’s Alec Shimell but ultimately clinched the win without too much difficulty, 11-5, 11-6, 12-10.
On Saturday, Tufts took on No. 36 NYU in a more competitive match but came out on top 7-2. The first-years were integral to the win, with first-years Cameron Ewan, Porges, and Trehan defeating their opponents in the third, fourth, and fifth positions, respectively. In the number one position, Chiulli fell to NYU’s Max McCafferty in three games, 13-11, 11-2, 11-3 after a difficult and hard-fought first game. Meanwhile, teammate and first-year Alan Litman also lost as No. 2, bested by Gabriel Bassil, 17-15, 13-11, 3-11, 12-10. But wins in positions three through nine allowed the Jumbos to move on to the championship match of the Chaffee Cup on Sunday. In a fitting championship matchup, Tufts had the opportunity for some revenge against Conn. College, the team that had beaten Tufts exactly two weeks prior in the NESCAC tournament consolation round. This time, though, the stakes were raised with the Chaffee Cup on the line.
In a reversal of the NESCAC match, the Jumbos battled the Conn. College Camels through a tight contest, but ended up on top with 5-4 to take the cup. The Jumbos were aided by a series of three-game victories, including Chiulli in the first position, winning 11-7, 11-4, 12-10, Litman in the second position, Ewan in the third, Raskopf in the sixth and sophomore Sandeep Rishi in the seventh. Though the match against Conn. College was close, Tufts channeled the competitive drive that defined their late-season run into victory.
The team declined to comment on its performance in the past two weeks.
Finishing its season with a 14-9 record, the team made history with the highest season win total in team history, dating back to the program’s inception in 1999. Most of that has come just this month, as the Jumbos’ comeback run over the final two weeks saw them win seven of their final eight matches across all competitions, winning 55 of the 72 points in those matches.
With the CSA Championships over, the team portion of the season has concluded. Now, some of the Jumbos look forward to their final competition of the season — the CSA Individual Championships at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut from March 4 to 6.