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Trinity spoils Princeton’s party – wins number eleven
Feb 23 , 2008, by Ron Beck and Kirsten Carlson, SquashTalk.com , Independent
; © 2008 SquashTalk LLC       

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Tourney results: [Draw/Results]   [Potter Sun]  [Hoehn Sun]  [Summers Sun]  [Conroy Sun]   [Chaffee Sun]  [Serues Sun]  [Hawthorn Sun]   [Emerging]  

24-feb-09 9:33


For Princeton, this was the moment. Their three stylish, individualistic and talented seniors, Kimlee Wong, Hesham el Halaby and Mauricio Sanchez, were making their very last appearance at the venerable Jadwin squash courts.

This time was different from the very start.

The court one crowd
Karim Darish and Amr Shabana

CSA Mens Nationals. results (photo: ©2009 Debra Tessier)

The Princeton fans got into the heads of Trinity from the first moment. As the players gathered on court one for introductions, the Princeton women’s team crowded onto the floor behind the glass, garbed in tight white body shirts and with a large sign reading, "Trinity we’re going to take your virginity." That got Trinity coach Paul Assaiante’s attention right away.

And the noise too. This was pretty unusual at Princeton — the home courts often known as the venue with no home crowd advantage.

But the orange and black crowd smelled a different sceario this time, and they were loud, engaged, charged with energy and ready to support their team.

And after six hours and an almost intolerable energy level and suspense for the fans, it was down to one match, one game. And Princeton’s Mauricio Sanchez held a 5-0 lead in that last game over Trinity’s Baset Chaudhry. The unimaginable had happened. Princeton was finally on the verge of that elusive victory that would erase years of frustration. It was increasingly physical out there. (and had been for some time – in the previous match on this court, Trinity’s Gustav Detter had received two conduct warnings for being overly physical) And it was hot.

Then, in a few short minutes, it all unraveled. Trinity’s Pakinstani giant dug in, pulled out reserves of energy, and began an epic and desperate comeback, sensing a few chinks in Sanchez’s feelings of security and confidence.

Baset kept going, overcoming a big Mauricio lead
Karim Darish and Amr Shabana

CSA Mens Nationals. results (photo: ©2009 Debra Tessier)

The 5-0 lead evaporated. The match seemed stucked, paused, in neutral at 7-5 in Chaudrey’s favor. The two heavyweights on the two heavyweight team battled back and forth tensely, the crowd waiting to see who would get the lucky break or make the error. And then suddenly, almost without note, it all slipped away from Princeton and what those tigers had all been working for for the last year, the last four years — in fact the last ten years since the Trinity win streak began — didn’t happen.

It was a crushing disappointment for the Princeton Team. A relief, really, for the Trinity players who had seen defeat more clearly than at any time in 201 matches. But for both teams togethers, and everyone who witnessed this amazing contest, a spectacular success for college squash and a thrilling example of the theatre of the sport. Bob Callahan summed it up, " This was definitely the best team I’ve had in the 28 years I’ve been coaching here. I mean that based on depth. It is the strongest team top to bottom."

Plenty of Bantam fans made the five hour drive to Princeton
Karim Darish and Amr Shabana

CSA Mens Nationals. results (photo: ©2009 Debra Tessier)

This match between two teams filled with talent and desire all up and down their lineups, was as evenly matched as anyone has seen in a college competition. Each of the nine matches was in every sense a tossup. Fully five of the nine matches went to five games and three to four games. Every college coach has a mental checklist of which matches in a contest he puts ahead of time into his column, and which are the key ones on which the match will turn. I am confident that if Trinity’s Assaiante or Princeton’s Callahan would divulge that list going into this match — then the ones that each did win would have been something of a surprise. Up and down the line, each match was played close to error-free. Each was played in a tactically sound manner. Each was a battle, chessmatch, and boxing match all rolled into one. Each turned on a few subtlties of style and tactics, a tiny edge of focus and desire, a few points here and there.

Kimlee had the big lead but Gustav got the win
Karim Darish and Amr Shabana

CSA Mens Nationals. results (photo: ©2009 Debra Tessier)

It started at position nine, where Peter Sopher of Princeton was facing off against Rush Vora. The chants of "We’ve got Sopher … we’ve got Sopher" — which as the match went on simply morphed into chants of his name. All the noise and cheering certainly energized the players and raised their games, but the fact is the game itself was very highly charged and high level. In that very first game of the first contest on court, when Sopher fell behind 8-4 in the first and then startlingly and patiently clawed his way back to 8-8, all could see that this would be a different sort of contest. And also, in that first game Sopher comeback, Vora, the supremely confident Vora, had ended three monstrous points with loud tins. He was indeed a bit nervous. The whole Trinity team was a bit nervous – an emotion not seen from this bunch often. And that was all tribute to the Tigers. It is the opponents that put that extra pressure on a talented group and make them mortal.

And so, a good hour and three quarters later, Sopher and then El Halaby, at number seven, put Princeton in the win column, both with five game victories.

the battle went on with leads gained and lost [see game by game account].

Mathur got a key win over Chris Callis
Karim Darish and Amr Shabana

CSA Mens Nationals. results (photo: ©2009 Debra Tessier)

A key and critical win for Princeton was scored when Kelly Shannon, playing in only his third match since going down with a freak back injury, rose to the energy of the occasion and came back from a two game deficit to win at the number seven position. Trinity had to regroup. "We had to abandon ship half way through [and change our strategy]" said coach Assaiante.

When David Letourneau for Princeton, at number four, surrendered a lead, Princeton had lost a golden opportunity. Letourneau is one of the most dependable of wins for the Tigers. About that loss, Callahan said, "I think Parth picked his game up quite a bit in the third, and played much better. The third was close though, and it was a little unlucky Dave didn’t get it."

The match had now come down to Gustav Detter at number two versus Princeton’s Kimlee Wong, and the battle of the number ones, Chaudhry and Sanchez.

Based on previous experience, Trinity was on paper favored in both matches. But noone was playing that way. Kimlee took a two game advantage over Detter. Detter, the hero of a miracle win three years ago, against Yasser El Halaby, which also rescued Trinity from a near certain loss to Princeton. Detter dug in and imposed himself in every way over the alomst unflappable Wong.

On Detter’s win, Coach Assaiante sain, "Gustav, at 0-2 was ready to accept defeat for himself. But he could not because he knew there were two players on two other courts depending on him."

And that knotted things up at four matches apiece, down now to the one match between the Pakistani, Chaudry and the Mexican, Sanchez.

Chaudry had owned Sanchez since arriving on the CSA scene, until losing to Sanchez exactly one week ago at the same place on the same court. There had been some questions about a possible wrist injury to Baset. Noone really knew the truth, and Coach Asssaiante was silent as Bill Belichek on that subject.

Irregardless, the two went at it. Sanchez got to the point of a big fifth game lead. And the rest is history.

Trinity wins its incredible eleventh straight US CSA team championship. Their match win streak continues to 202. A national college record in any sport.

That win streak has been, mostly, a steamroller rather than a streak, as Trinity has mowed down lesser teams year after year. With the exception of a few matches with Harvard, when Will Broadbent led the Harvard nine’s lineup, and with the exception of most of their matches in the past six years with Princeton. But this one is truly the one that Princeton could have and almost did win. A college squash match for the ages. Maybe one that will be unequalled in its parity of competition, the sophistication of the battle, the readiness of the two teams, the energy of the crowd, the changes in momentum and ups and down, and the physical and emotional reserves that the match called the players to call on. And eighteen fine players to a man answered that call and delighted the crowd and a squash nation. Six hours of enthralling competition.

Meanwhile, Rochester signalled to these two squash juggernauts that some upstarts from upstate New York had joined the party. Rochester, three miles south at Lawrencetown, steamrolled Harvard to take the third place in the tournament [read report]


Thanks to the success of Cornell and Rochester, two perennial Potter Cup competitors found themselves competing for the top spot in the B division. The University of Western Ontario Mustangs and Williams College Ephs met in the final to decide the winner of the Hoehn Cup, and played a match that remained tight all the way, with UWO coming out on top 5-4.

The teams split the first two rotations. Bernard Yaros put Williams up 4-3 with a win at No. 7, leaving things to be decided by the No. 4s and No. 1s. UWO’s Chris Hanebury defeated William’s Ethan Buchsbaum in the top spot, and minutes later UWO’s Ian Crozier closed out George Miller to win the match for the Mustangs.

Williams’ head coach Zafi Levy said he knew UWO would be tough to beat up top, and with his No. 5, Christian Henze not playing to his full potential because of an injury, the key match would be Miller’s.

“Number four was the one we could have won,” Levy said. “But we played well. Western Ontario is a good team, slightly better than us. It was very close.”

Finishing immediately behind Williams in 11th place was Bates, who defeated Franklin & Marshall 6-3, a team they lost to just one month earlier. It was clear early on in Sunday’s match that the Bobcats had other ideas this time around.

Bates went up 2-1 after the first rotation and eventually pulled to 4-3. Bates’ No. 1, Kush Mahan, lost handily to Nadav Tannen the last time they met. The two played an unbelievably close match, going point for point throughout, with Mahan escaping with the win to clinch the victory for his team.

“That was the pivotal match,” said Bates head coach Pat Cosquer. “That was the match that turned the tide. He (Mahan) worked hard, fought hard.”

Bates’ suffered major losses to graduation in 2008, losing All American and Skillman Award winner Ricky Weisskopf, and a very strong No. 2 in Sean Wilkinson.

“People didn’t think we’d finish as high as we did,” Cosquer said. “I am proud of the way we played this season and proud of the way we finished this weekend. The guys individually and as a team improved. With several incoming freshmen that will compete for positions in the top-10, the future is bright.”


Middlebury went from last in the C Division in 2008 to winning it this year, taking home the Summers Cup and a 17th place ranking in just their second year as a varsity sport. Middlebury also took home the Sportsmanship award.

Conn College narrowly defeated Stanford to win the Conroy Division. Drexel beat its seeding to win the Chaffee Cup (E Division), while Kenyon lived up to its top seeding in the F Division, taking home the Serues Cup. Lafayette ended the weekend as the first winners of the Hawthorn Cup, a bracket created this year as a result of the high number of entrants. Illinois bested Swarthmore, Bucknell and Siena to finish atop the Emerging Teams Division.




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Historical information PSA Men's Pro Event:

Year Winner Runnerup Scores
1996 Jansher Khan Ahmed Barada  
1997 Peter Nicol Jansher Khan  
1998 Ahmed Barada Martin Heath 15/5,15/17,15/13,13/15,15/13
1999 Peter Nicol Ahmed Barada 15-9, 15-13, 15-11
2000 Peter Nicol Ahmed Barada 15/14, 9/15, 15/3, 15/12


Historical information PSA Women's Pro Event:

Year Winner Runnerup Scores
1997 Sarah Fitz-Gerald Michelle Martin  
1998 Michelle Martin Cassie Jackman  
1999 Michelle Martin Carol Owens 9-6, 9-0, 10-9
2000 Leilani Joyce Carol Owens 8/10, 9/7, 9/5, 3/9, 9/5



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