Trinity Double: Nour Baghat & Baset Chaudhry win titles
March 1, 2009, by Ron Beck, SquashTalk.com , Independent
News; © 2008 SquashTalk LLC
A TRIPLE PLAY
Despite Trinity College’s dominance of the CSA men’s division over the past decade, and Trinity’s corresponding strong position near the top of the women’s division, the individuals have been a more difficult target for the Bantams. Trinity came into the weekend boasting the number one seeded player for both the Men’s Pool cup draw and the Women’s Ramsay Cup draw. When the weekend drew to a close, Trinity’s Baset Chaudhry (the men’s defending champ) and Nour Baghat had not disappointed their fans, and Trinity ended the season with an impressive triple play: The Men’s Team Title, The Men’s Individual Title and the Women’s Individual Title.
Nour Baghat, the Eygptian sharpshooter who came to Trinity from Lawrenceville Academy, won the Women’s Intercollegiate Singles title, the Ramsay Cup, in her freshman year. With the win she added further frustration to Penn star Kirsten Lange’s collegiate career, who has been the Ramsay cup bridesmaid three times now. As a freshman, Lange lost to Harvard’s Kyla Grigg and as a sophomore she fell victim to Miranda Ranieri of Yale.
THE WOMEN’S BATTLE
This women’s final match pitted two opposing styles of play and the result was a very close and entertaining match. It was, however, marred with some controvery over the style of Baghat’s play and the final, refereed by National Referee Maj Madden, was marked by two conduct warnings and one conduct point against Baghat.
Indeed the play in the final became quite physical at times, with neither Penn’s Kristen Lange nor Trinity’s Nour Baghat in the mood to either clear the court for the opposing player.
What was actually happening on court left room for interpretation, stirring spirited discussion both during and following the match. While I was buttonholed by several Trinity fans following the final, who wanted me to know in no uncertain terms that they felt the refereeing this year, and in prior years, was always biased toward the Ivy League teams and against Trinity, a number of experience coaches and observers were equally vocal on the on-court talking and actions on the part of Baghat. (Up to a point, I do agree with the Trinity fan. In the semi finals, where Baghat faced Yale’s Logan Greer, the referee immediately came down on Baghat’s tendancy to drop her racquet on the floor at any call or situation she was unhappy with. There’s actually no rule about dropping your racquet after the point, and the referee was somewhat out of order on this point. It didn’t stop Baghat, by the way, from steamrolling Greer in three rapid fire games)
As a pure player, Baghat is a pleasure to watch and brings an impressive assembly of weapons to bear. She combines speed, power, court presence, squash intelligence, deception, touch and instinctive creativity which make up a formidable package for any opponent to contend with. If she could simply focus on those elements of the game and eliminate the talk, histrionics and gestures there would be no discussion. But she doesn’t … possibly she can’t. And in fact, up to a certain point, all of this other stuff that comes along with her pure game, adds character and charm to her performance. But when it crosses the line, it can be painful to watch.
Baghat did start out playing pure squash, and having faced Kirsten Lange twice already this season, knew what she wanted to do. She set out to keep Lange on the move and off balance. This worked for her without a hitch in the first game.
Kirsten Lange, though, is also a formidable complete squash package, combining anticipation, fast reactions with very mature racquet work. Lange had her own gameplan, which involved using deception, both in change of pace and court location, and trying to keep Baghat out of the front court. When this started to turn the momentum towards Lange, and started forcing some errors out of Baghat, then extracurricular bumping and complaining began. Which led to a conduct warning in game three, at which point Baghat essentially stopped playing for the rest of the game.
It seemed, from a player confidence point of view and momentum point of view, that the third game in Lange’s column was critical in the devolvement of the match. The fourth game was a real battle, with both players exhibiting great play, great ability to get to the ball and duelling tactics. But on both sides of the ball the let requests mounted. And the fault didn’t all come down on Baghat’s side. Lange, despite her terrific anticipation and court sense, does seem to have lost about a half step of quickness since last season – an issue she needs to address. And with Baghat’s quick wrist and ability to change direction, she forced Lange into some long runs to the ball. As game four proceeded, Lange chose more often than not, the easy route of asking for the let instead of extending for the ball. Of course, Baghat’s shot selection was also making the contact likely.
At 8-6 in Baghat’s favor, a serious of long rallies concluded with an even longer rally, after which Nour requested a time pause indicating she was cramping. The referee indicated that the rules require continuous play. When Nour did not resume play, a penalty point was awarded, bringing the score to 7-8. At that point Nour resumed play and slammed an emphatic overhead volley serve return into the forehand nick. She lost the next rally, but then duplicated the dead winner on the next play. That took all the energy away from Lange and it was Nour’s and Trinity’s Title in her freshman year.
A BRUTAL BATTLE
In the Men’s Pool Trophy national championships, Trinity’s Baset Chaudhry and Princeton’s Mauricio Sanchez met for the third time in three weeks. In a very hotly contested but cleanly played match, the momentum shifted back and forth with dizzying frequency.
This was a long and exhausting match, with neither player making mistakes, both players retrieving most everything, and almost every point requiring a winning shot to be concluded.
Though only the second game (won by Sanchez at 10-9) went to a tiebreaker, every point of each game was close and each game was extremely close, with one or the other contestent pulling away each game.
After Sanchez from Princeton coming back from losing the first game, winning the second 10-9, Chaudhry came back strong to take the third and it looked like Sanchez might be done. But Sanchez re-established his game plan, which involved taking the ball early, accuracy, forcing Chaudry to move constantly and complete focus, and through a series of monumental points in game four, it looked like Chaudhry might be tiring. Chaudhry, in fact, ended the fourth with errors on three points in a row, leaving observers feeling that Chaudhry may have been finally worn down by the indominable Mauricio Sanchez.
But, as we have seen many times over the past three CSA seasons, Baset called on some hidden reserves of energy and mental strength, and came out a new man in game five.
When it counted in the fifth, Chaudhry built a 3-0 lead. This appeared to catch Sanchez off guard. Uncharacteristically, Sanchez was lured into risky play. Thus though it had seemed that Chaudhry was the player tiring at the end of the fourth, it was Sanchez who essentially capitulated tactically at about half way through the fifth game.
It was an extremely well contested and cleanly played match.
CSA National Ramsay Trophy (Womens):
Nour Baghat (Trinity) def Kirsten Lange (Penn) 9-5 9-4 4-9 9-7 (55m)
CSA National Pool Trophy (Men):
Baset Ashfaq Chaudhry (Trinity) def Mauricio Sanchez (Princeton) 9-6 9-10 9-4 5-9 9-3 (97m)
|Men’s "A" Potter||Women’s "A" Ramsay|
Men’s "B" Malloy
|Women’s "B" Holleran|
|Men’s A Potter Consolation||Women’s A Ramsay Consolation|
|Men’s A Potter 2nd Round Consolation||Women’s A Ramsay 2nd Round Consolation|
|Men’s B Malloy Consolation||Women’s B Holleran Consolation|
|Men’s B Malloy 2nd Round Consolation||Women’s B Holleran 2nd Round Consolation|
|Men’s B Malloy 3rd Round Consolation||Women’s B Holleran 3rd Round Consolation|
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Historical information PSA Men's Pro Event:
|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:
|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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