Men's Squash: Tigers to defend championship at CSA tournament
Senior Todd Harrity, who plays number one for the Tigers, leads this Princeton team. Harrity is a first-team All-American and won the CSA national individual championships as a sophomore. He finished last season as the third-ranked player in the country.
“We had some tough losses recently to Cornell and Trinity, but hopefully we can use those matches as motivation for the weekend,” Harrity said. “Everyone on the team has improved this year, and everyone has the potential to play well and win big matches under pressure.”
Princeton will kick off its run at a national championship by playing Franklin & Marshall on Friday, a team the Tigers beat 9-0 earlier in the season. Franklin & Marshall features senior Guilherme de Melo, who finished as the ninth-ranked player in the country last year.
Defeating any team twice in one season, Harrity said, is never easy, and Franklin & Marshall is no exception. “Sometimes it’s hard to beat a good team twice. They will obviously want to beat us, and since they’re the underdogs, they will be fighting hard. We just need to be focused, and we need to prepare well.”
If Princeton does win on Friday, there is a very high likelihood that it would face Harvard in the semifinals, a game that would be hugely important as both an elimination game and an intense rivalry. If Princeton were to defeat the Crimson, it would probably face Trinity in the finals.
Trinity is the top-ranked team heading into the tournament and beat Princeton in the regular season finale last weekend. Before the Tigers took the championship in a very close match last season, the Bantams had won an amazing 13 straight national championships. The Tigers, having broken that streak, will now try to start a streak of their own.
“If we beat F&M, we’ll probably face Harvard in the semifinals,” sophomore Samuel Kang said. “We beat them 5-4 earlier this year, with many matches being extremely close. There’s a tendency to look ahead to this match, but everyone knows how tough every match will be this weekend, and we’re trying to take each day as it comes.”
The Tigers have an incredibly difficult weekend ahead of them. Repeating as national champions is an entirely attainable and reachable goal, but it will be not be easy. When asked about what exactly it will take to win this weekend, Kang kept his message simple: “Play the best three days of squash of our lives.”
Harrity’s answer was not quite as concise. “We will have to prepare very well for our matches, physically and mentally, and we’re going to have to be focused and keep our energy levels high for the entire three days.”
There is, however, a common theme in these two answers. As simple as it seems, the Tigers will have to play really well this weekend, which requires an unbelievable amount of focus and hard work. Most players on this team were on the championship squad last year, and they know the level of work ethic and mental intensity it will take to win again.
Although this team does not want to think past its upcoming match against Franklin & Marshall, players acknowledge how special a repeat national championship would be. Harrity, especially, spoke about what winning a national championship to finish his storied Princeton career would mean.
“I love this team, and it would be amazing to win a national team championship. We’re going to play very hard this weekend, and hopefully things will go our way. We’ll have fun playing, too. It’s my last time playing for the team, and I’ve had an amazing time these past four years. So I am going to have fun playing this weekend, no matter what.”
The CSA team championships begin on Friday in New Haven, Conn.
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