Princeton Men’s squash concluded its grueling, nearly four month long season with a solid result — an eighth place national finish in the College Squash Association.
With a 7–9 overall record and a 4–3 Ivy conference record, Princeton’s season was marked with hard-fought wins alongside close, bitter losses.
Through the ups and the downs, the team had a respectable season. “Different people won crucial matches at different times and there was no dependence on a single player. We faced adversity at multiple points but did not back down,” wrote junior Adhitya Raghavan, in an email to the Daily Princetonian. Raghavan competed in the number one spot for the team during the whole season.
Altogether, the season followed an upward trajectory.
In their opening match against Virginia, without three starters, Princeton was handed a disappointing loss from a team that they were anticipated to beat. Another loss to Trinity, a strong competitor who finished No. 2 in the nation, ensued the following weekend.
But Princeton rebounded, seizing wins out-of-conference against George Washington, St. Lawrence, and Drexel.
With winter break and finals throughout December and January, Princeton had a long break before commencing Ivy League play. Although the team is in-season for months, the majority of the team’s games were condensed into a short time period.
During league match-ups against Penn, Harvard, Dartmouth, Columbia, and Cornell in the span of 12 days, Princeton brought focus and intensity.
With a win against Brown, followed by a loss against Yale, Princeton’s record was split on the weekend.
Then, during an epic Wednesday weeknight battle, Princeton tested Penn to its limits, walking away with a 5–4 loss. “As far as a match that we bought in, that was a turning point. Penn was expected to win by all means, but we pushed them pretty close,” said senior Clark Doyle, who competed in the number two spot for the Tigers
After the Penn matchup, Princeton brought energy against Dartmouth in a triumphant 8–1 win. “We hadn’t beaten Dartmouth in 3 years, but everyone played with a ton of belief and conviction,” said Doyle.
The following weekend, Princeton squeaked out wins against Columbia and Cornell, 5–4.
The Columbia victory was an upset. “We grinded it out, and snuck out a bunch of wins against Columbia,” said Doyle.
"Our captain Gabriel Morgan [was] a pillar of strength,” junior Adhitya Raghavan wrote.
“[Morgan] was injured all of his sophomore year and this year he has lost just one match the whole year, all this in spite of the fact that he not completely recovered from his hamstring injury,” Raghavan added. “The icing on the cake was when he pulled off a thrilling victory to beat Columbia 5–4, a match that will be remembered for a long time."
Princeton’s season concluded with disappointing performances in the 2019 CSA Championships. Unable to pull off repeat upsets against Columbia and Dartmouth, Princeton’s season ended. Princeton will suffer with the loss of a strong senior class of seven. Although not all worked their way into the starting lineup, the seniors offered energy and fervent commitment to the program. In the starting lineup, the loss of Clark Doyle will be felt acutely. “In a high pressure spot… he held his own,” wrote Raghavan.
But Doyle sees a bright future for the team ahead. "They’re going to be really good next year, and it’s exciting,” said Doyle.
In the years ahead, the team will benefit from its strong underclassmen presence. First-year Daelum Mawji holds the number three spot, while first-year Howe Cheng remained undefeated the whole season, until the final match.
“I hope that we can keep being cohesive and continue the tight knit culture,” remarked Doyle. With a huge smile on his face, he paused, “We’ll see if we can pull off more upsets.”
This coming weekend, Doyle, along with Raghavan and Mawji, will compete at the College Squash Association Individual Championship Tournament, in Providence, R.I.
At this tournament, the top 16 players in the nation contend in the “Pool Trophy: A Division” bracket. The top 10 become First-Team All-Americans, and the remaining six are Second-Team All-Americans. Outside of the A division are 4 “Molloy Divisions,” with 16 players competing in four distinct brackets. The winner of each of these brackets achieve Second-Team All-American status.
The tournament is elimination style, with consolation brackets. With a maximum of four potential matches over the course of three days, the weekend is a physically demanding final hurrah to the season.
Raghavan, Doyle and Mawji will each vie to become All-Americans. The schedule is yet to be released, but Raghavan should hopefully be entered in the Pool division, while Doyle and Mawji will be in the Molloy Divisions.
With All-American status on the line, the stakes are high.
“I just want to have fun with it, enjoy what I’m doing, stay healthy, and see what happens,” said Doyle.