Men's Squash Competes at CSA Team Championships, Michael Groot Goes 3-0
Issue   |   Wed, 02/24/2016 - 00:30
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Competing from the No. 4 position, Cameron Bahadori '18 compiled a 2-1 record for the purple and white at last weekend's CSA Team Championships.

Men’s squash participated in its final team competition of the year on Friday at Yale. The team entered the Collegiate Squash Association (CSA) team championships, primarily hosted at Yale, sporting a 6-8-season record and the No. 22 spot in the CSA’s national rankings. That ranking placed Amherst in the Summers Cup (C Division) of the CSA Championships: an eight-team bracket featuring the squads ranked between No. 17 and No. 24 nationally.

There were plenty of familiar faces in the bracket this year, where the purple and white joined No. 17 Bates, No. 18 Williams, No. 19 Wesleyan, No. 21 Colby and No. 23 Bowdoin to make it six NESCAC teams in the Summers Cup.

Coming off of a strong seventh-place finish at the highly competitive NESCAC championships two weekends ago, the team earned a first-round matchup against a talented Wesleyan team that had narrowly won over Amherst at the Little III Championships in January.

Seeking revenge in a much-anticipated rematch, Amherst took the courts on Friday with a slightly different lineup than the one that nearly pulled the upset against Wesleyan a month ago. A spot in the semifinals up for grabs, both teams fought hard but it was not long before the purple and white found themselves in an uphill battle.

Amherst No. 1 Noah Browne ’16, despite his strong season, fell to Wesleyan’s Guy Davidson (11-7, 11-9, 14-12). After dropping the first set, David Merkel ’19 evened the match at 1-1 on court three, but the first-year eventually fell, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6.

In the end, Cameron Bahadori ’18 (default) and Michael Groot ’17 (11-6, 2-11, 12-10, 11-8) scored Amherst’s only victories, coming on courts four and seven, respectively. With the loss, Amherst fell into the consolation bracket.

Following the 7-2 setback, Amherst faced off with No. 23 Bowdoin for the second time this tournament season. History favored Amherst in this one, since it was over the very same Bowdoin team that Amherst had triumphed, 6-3, in the seventh-place match at the NESCAC Championships in early February.

Saturday’s matchup, again close, saw a similar result. Browne got the festivities started for Amherst with a 3-0 win (12-10, 11-6, 11-6).

Harith Khawaja ’19 dropped his match on court two, but a four-set victory Merkel victory and a five-set Bahadori win on the third and fourth courts put the purple and white up 3-1 with five matches to play. Amherst needed just two more wins to take the victory and advance to the consolation finals.

Bowdoin’s George Cooley defeated Darian Ehsani ’17 on court five (11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3), but Jeremy Van ’17 provided a win at the No. 6 position with his sweep of Bowdoin’s Satya Butler. Groot then earned his second victory of the weekend (11-5, 11-8, 11-4) on court seven to clinch the match.

Bowdoin eventually carried courts eight and nine but Jojo might as well have been singing from the crowd, because it was just too little too late for the Polar Bears. Amherst triumphed 5-4 and moved on to the finals of the Summers Cup consolation bracket.

There, the purple and white faced No. 21 Colby College for the second time this season, with the chance to avenge a 6-3 loss to the Mules at the Pioneer Valley Invitational in Jan. Unfortunately, Amherst was unable to overcome their tough opponent, falling on the wrong end of a 7-2 score line.

Browne lost a tough five-set match in the first position. The senior captain fought back after falling behind twice to knot the match at 2-2 heading into the final set. However, Browne then fell in the fifth, 12-10.

Merkel finished his strong weekend from the third position with a come-from-behind victory. The first-year dropped his first set but grabbed the critical second set 11-9 and went on to win in four sets.

Groot then grabbed the purple and white’s other victory of the matchup with a sweep of Colby’s Andrew Swapp on court seven. The junior impressed in particular with an undefeated tournament.

After this weekend’s results, Amherst’s record stands at 6-10 for the season, while Browne leads the purple and white with a 13-3 individual record.

Amherst has this weekend off before they return to the court for their final matches of the season from Friday to Sunday, March 4-6. They will compete at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, where the team hopes to finish the season off on a strong note.