Rochester shocks Harvard to take CSA 3rd place
Feb 22 , 2008, by Kirsten Carlson, SquashTalk.com , Independent News; © 2008 SquashTalk LLC
(updated 23-feb-09 13:43 )
While almost everyone was mesmerized by the Championship match going on at Princeton between Trinity and Princeton [see separate report], something amazing its own right was happening three miles away at Lawrenceville School The Rochester Yellowjackets, a team whose talent was never questioned this year but ability to handle pressure was, defeated the Harvard Crimson 7-2 to finish third in the country. This reversed a 5-4 defeat at the hands of Harvard a few weeks ago during the regular season.
"Our goal was top four, but we thought we had a chance at three," said Rochester head coach Martin Heath. "To actually finish third, it's fantastic for the kids."
This finish marks a meteoric rise by Rochester, from the realm of also-rans at the time when Martin Heath took over as coach just a few short seasons ago, to their current position as #3 in the country.
While a win over Harvard was deemed possible, especially after their breakthrough win over Yale in the CSA Team quarterfinals, the depth and breadth of the win was noteworthy, with fully five of the seven Rochester wins coming by 3-0 scores.
Harvard's Richard Hill defeated an ailing Will Newnham, at number six, to put his team on the board first. Hameed Ahmed, who was the poster boy for collapsing under pressure, dominated his match against Niko Hrdy, allowing just six points in three games at number three. Yohay Wakabayashi and Ned Reeves had one of the day's few tight matches, with reeves fighting back from a two game deficit but Rochester's Wakabayashi ultimately coming out on top at number nine. From there the wins mounted quickly for the Yellowjackets. Bennie Fischer defeated Verdi DiSesa (at two) and Fred Reid handled Reed Endresen (at five), both 3-0.
"I was expecting Verdi and Niko to have some resistance against them, but our guys are so confident now and playing so well," said Heath.
Matt Domenick, the hero of the team's semifinal against Yale, also won the clincher against Harvard. No. 8, Adam Perkiomaki claimed the sixth win, and then Colin West Harvard's almost always sure bet, defeated fellow All American Jim Bristow at the number one position. Joe Chapman finished off a perfect weekend, winning a five gamer against Frank Cohen to grab Rochester's seventh win.
Heath gave several reasons for why his team was able to win the big matches this weekend, after struggling with them during the season.
"We got Bennie Fischer in January," Heath said. "He strengthened the top of the lineup. He was a great addition. Our training worked out and we peaked at the right time. Hameed Ahmed is playing better. He is such a talented player, and I don't think he has reached his potential."
Heath and his team have no intention of slowing down or easing up now that they have proven to be a top team. Heath hopes to add more top recruits next season and to see his current players continue to improve.
"We don't want to stop here," Heath said.
|Match Score:||Rochester 7 Harvard 2 at Lawrenceville School, Sunday Feb 22nd|
|Coach: Martin Heath||Coach: Satinder Bajwa|
|1||Jim Bristow||Colin West||Harvard||9-1 9-4 9-0|
|2||Bennie Fischer||Verdi Disesa||Rochester||9-0 9-0 9-5|
|3||Hameed Ahmed||Niko Hrdy||Rochester||9-1 9-5 9-0|
9-7 9-2 9-0
|5||Fred Reid||Reed Endresen||
9-1 9-4 9-2
|6||Will Newnham||Richard Hill||
|9-6 9-5 9-0|
|7||Joe Chapman||Frank Cohen||
|8||Adam Perkiomaki||Will Ahmed||
|9-7 9-3 9-0|
|9||Yohay Wakabayashi||Ned Reeves||
|9-1 9-6 7-9 1-9 9-6|