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Tigers Letourneau
& Wong Win College Doubles Event

By Rob Dinerman,
April 7, 2008    
Squashtalk Independent News; ©
2008 SquashTalk LLC



school squash

a captivating display of athleticism and teamwork, Princeton torch-bearers
David Letourneau and Kimlee Wong surged to a 15-8 15-9 17-16 final-round
victory this afternoon over Yalies C. J. Plimpton and Ethan Oetter
to win the Intercollegiate Doubles Championships, hosted as has been
the case for the past several years by the University Club of New York.
This solid companion-piece to the Ivy League and Howe Cup crowns that
men’s and women’s teams had earned respectively this past
winter capped off what has turned out to be a highly successful year
in Tigertown.

Louise Crome - Vietnam WISPA squash open winner
Doubles: (photo
Yale vs Princeton: ©2008 Frank Plimpton)

The tournament, originally the brain-child of the late
William (Treddy) Ketcham, in whose honor the champion’s trophy
is named, debuted exactly 20 years ago in ’88, when similarly Princeton,
represented that year by Keen Butcher and Roy Rubin, defeated Elis Alex
Dean and Eric Wohlgemuth, the current California state champions, in
the final at the nearby Racquet & Tennis Club.

Tournament Chairman
Will Osnato, himself a winner of this event five years ago with Dent
Wilkiins, seeded the Bowdoin entry of Chris Nehrbas and Peter Cipriano
No. 1 in deference to Cipriano’s
tournament-winning effort a year ago with then-senior Alex Linhart over
their Bates opponents in an all-Maine final. But it was evident from
the start that this year’s draw was noticeably stronger than in ’07,
possibly a reflection of the growth of doubles as a whole in
recent years, and after a fairly routine straight-game opening-round
win over Devin Gorman-DaRif and Evan Lodge of Wesleyan, Nehrbas and Cipriano
were convincingly out-played in the semis by Plimpton and Oetter, who
were still riding the considerable momentum that they had generated for
themselves when they ran away from their Cornell opponents Christopher
Sachvie and Dillon Aldrich in a 15-4 fifth-game culmination to what had
theretofore been a dead-even though seesaw quartet of games.

The draw’s
bottom half was similarly characterized by competitive quarters followed
by a one-sided semi, as the Calgary-bred Letourneau, whose doubles sophistication,
markedly superior to that of anyone in the tournament, belies his status
as a freshman, and Wong, the No. 2 singles player on the Princeton varsity,
took a match to find themselves before overwhelming Elis Mike Maruca
(who, like many entrants, had never played doubles prior to this weekend,
but showed an amazing learning curve) and Todd Ruth, who is a major counterexample
to the foregoing, as witness the host of U. S. junior doubles titles
that he and Trevor McGuinness compiled during the early portion of this

The domination that the tall shot-maker Letourneau
and his fleet right-wall partner established in the Saturday afternoon
semi carried them through the first two games of the final against Plimpton
and Oetter, who mistakenly attempted to force the pace, only to find
themselves seriously out-gunned throughout the first two single-figure
games. Letourneau was establishing front-court position well in front
of the tee, taking advantage of his considerable wing-span and angling
deft reverse-corners and cross-court drops to catch his Yale counterparts
off guard, while Wong was controlling the right-wall exchanges and creating
havoc with his severe rails and three-wall nicks.

Chastened by the 15-8,
15-9 tallies that were swiftly mounted against them, and realizing that
a change in tactics was warranted, Plimpton and Oetter began the third
game by slowing the play down, lobbing Letourneau and thereby forcing
him to retreat to the back wall, where his ability to do damage was significantly
reduced. One additional benefit of this strategy was the impatience it
induced in the Princeton pair, whose tin count rose and whose loose balls
Oetter and especially Plimpton converted into enough winners to garner
an 11-7 lead when Letourneau contributed his fifth tin of the game (when
he cut a delicate cross-court backhand drop shot too close) to Yale’s
point total.

Doubles: (photo
Yale vs Princeton: ©2008 Frank Plimpton)


From 9-12, Princeton evened the count at 12-all on a
tin by each Yalie preceding a shallow Wong forehand drive that Oetter
scoop back. Three consecutive tins, by (sequentially) Wong, Letourneau
and Plimpton, all on nervy shot attempts, made it 14-13, Yale, but after
the ball broke at the end of a long all-court point, Plimpton misjudged
a playable lob on the first point with the new ball, which therefore
died at the back wall behind him. The evenly-divided first four points
of the ensuing best-of-five tiebreaker – a tin and a reverse-corner
winner, both by Letourneau, who then hammered a winner past Oetter, who
responded with a reverse-corner winner of his own to repulse the first
championship-point — created a simultaneous-game-point situation, which
ended spectacularly when Plimpton’s serve from the right box caromed
off the back wall, only to be deftly and creatively cross-court drop-shot
returned by Letourneau, whose brainy salvo softly angled into the nick
in front of a nonplussed Oetter, who, like everyone else both on court
and in the gallery, never saw it coming.

There is plenty of potential
for a rematch of this final a year from now (as happened in ’04
and ’05 with Yale stars
Julian Illingworth and Trevor Rees splitting their pair of consecutive
final-round clashes with Harvard’s Will Broadbent and Garnett Booth),
as none of the four participants are seniors. Oetter and Wong are both
juniors and Plimpton (for whom this event represented his only salvo
of a season largely lost to an autumn hamstring pull followed by a winter
bout with mononucleosis) and Letourneau, as noted, are freshmen. As is
also true in singles, intercollegiate doubles is growing stronger with
every passing year, and the future looks extremely promising for future
editions of this tournament.

Tournament Recap: Qtrs: Chris Nehrbas/Peter
Cipriano (Bowdoin) d Devin Gorman-DaRif/Evan Lodge (Wesleyan) 15-2, 2
and 6; C. J. Plimpton/Ethan Oetter (Yale) d Christopher Sachvie/Dillon
Aldrich (Cornell), 15-7 9-15 17-15 6-15 15-4; David Letourneau/Kimlee
Wong (Princeton) d Aaron Fuchs/Naishadh Lalwani (Yale), 15-3 15-9 12-15
15-9; Michael Maruca/Todd Ruth (Yale) d John McCarthy/Omar Mangalji (Cornell),
15-13 15-13 10-15 15-11.

Semis: Plimpton/Oetter d Nehrbas/Cipriano, 15-11,
7 and 11; Letourneau/Wong d Maruca/Ruth, 15-8, 9 and 5.

Final: Letourneau/Wong
d Plimpton/Oetter, 15-8 15-9 17-16.


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