The No. 24 men’s squash team finished sixth at the NESCAC Championship and upset No. 22 Amherst 5–4 in the consolation round. This marked a historic moment for the Jumbos, who defeated the Mammoths after more than 20 years and had their best finish at the NESCAC Championship in over 10 years.
Tufts defeated Conn. College 9–0 in its first-round match, before bowing down to No. 2 Trinity 8–1 in the quarterfinal round. Tufts had another close encounter against Bowdoin in the fifth-place match, but ultimately lost 5–4. The consolation match against Amherst was also close, with Tufts narrowly getting the victory 5–4.
“[Amherst] was probably our best match of the season,” first-year Sanjeev Jeyabalan, who won his match in the third position, said. “Amherst is a very well-respected team in the NESCAC. Beating them really makes us seem like a force to be reckoned with.”
First-year Kunal Valia was also ecstatic about beating the Mammoths.
“Really glad about the win,” Valia said. “It was our first victory over Amherst in 20 years and it was a great team effort.”
First-year Vivaan Jaikishan also commented on how the previous match in the season against Amherst, which Tufts lost 6–3, helped them learn from their mistakes and implement a successful strategy when they played Amherst again in the postseason.
“I think we were tired from traveling,” Jaikishan said about the Jan. 31 match. “Everyone played extremely well and w[as] extremely motivated to beat them after last time, so we all gave it our best.”
Despite only getting sixth place, the Jumbos made the most out of the tournament, ensuring they learned something out of every match. Losing to No. 2 Trinity 8–1, Jeyabalan focused only on the positives.
“It was a learning experience,” Jeyabalan said. “We knew they would win but we were able to take a lot of pointers from the games. We hope to work on them before the College Squash Association Championships.”
The Jumbos will use the momentum from the NESCAC tounrnament as a source of confidence, moving into the CSA Championships at Harvard on Feb. 28, 29 and March 1.
“It’s a great confidence booster for us,” Jaikishan said. “We’re in the C-draws now, and we are looking forward to caus[ing] many more upsets and win[ning] the C-draw.”
Jeyabalan feels that such a dynamic change in the team has worked in the favor of the Jumbos.
“We just have a stronger squad and I think the team is more prepared as a whole,” Jeyabalan said. “We have been putting in some very good training sessions. We really work hard in training. I think that’s the biggest part.”
The Jumbos will compete against the best teams in the country when they drive down to Harvard College on Feb. 28 at the CSA Team Championship.