After finishing sixth at last weekend’s NESCAC tournament, the Amherst men’s squash team returned home to close out the regular season with matches against two non-conference foes.
However, the team’s recent run of poor form continued, with the purple and white falling to both Saint Lawrence and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
On Friday, the 24th-ranked Amherst squad took on national powerhouse St. Lawrence, who entered the matchup ranked seventh in the country. The vast disparity in rankings would play itself out on the Davenport Squash Courts, where the purple and white were swept 9-0, taking only two sets total from the Saints.
On court three, sophomore David Merkel continued his impressive season, battling hard but falling in four sets 11-3, 11-8, 4-11, 11-3. Likewise, Mitch Ford ’20 was able to take a set off his St. Lawrence opponent, but lost 11-5, 11-4, 7-11, 11-7 on the ninth court.
The purple and white did manage more success on Saturday, when the team played host to the 21st-ranked Engineers.
As opposed to Friday’s affair, where only two courts required more than the minimum three sets, Saturday’s contest saw seven of the nine courts, as well as the exhibition court, go four or five sets.
The lone pair of victories for Amherst came on the third and eighth courts. Merkel picked up the four-set win on court three, cementing his status as a guaranteed top-court player for the purple and white. Meanwhile, on court eight, Mateen Mills ’20 picked up his first win since Amherst’s 9-0 beat down of Connecticut College on Feb. 3.
Impressively, Mills was able to battle back from losing the first set to take a 2-1 lead after three sets, and although his opponent managed to knot the affair at two sets apiece, Mills perservered for the 5-11, 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4 win.
The purple and white, however, were on the receiving end of three similarly heart breaking losses.
Senior captain Darian Ehsani and Cameron Bahadori ’18 lost in five sets on the fourth and fifth courts respectively. In both cases, the Amherst player was able to battle back from a two-set deficit to tie the match at 2-2, but neither Ehsani nor Bahadori could fully complete the comeback.
Similarly, Ford, still reeling from his tough defeat the previous day at the hands of St. Lawrence, was unable to eke out the five-set victory on court nine.
With the regular season now over, the purple and white turn to postseason action. First on the docket for Amherst is the CSA Team Championship, otherwise known as the Summers Cup, which will be held this weekend, Feb. 17-19, on the Harvard campus.
The purple and white will first take on NESCAC rival Middlebury at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, a foe Amherst fell to 9-0 already in early January.