The men's squash team sat squarely at a crossroads last week. The Tigers had dropped their first match of the season Feb. 1, a closely-contested 6-3 loss to Harvard. As if the heartbreaking nature of the defeat wasn't enough, Princeton lost junior captain and No. 4 Alan Cantlin to a season-ending wrist injury.
As a veteran with plenty of big-match experience, senior captain Ben Fishman easily recognized Princeton's situation.
"As I told the team after our match, we can either pack it in or improve," Fishman said after the Harvard match. "There are two directions we can go, and hopefully we'll choose the right one."
Fork in the road
Fishman and his teammates wasted no time in choosing the correct path. The Tigers (8-1 overall, 4-1 Ivy League) dominated every aspect of the game in a 9-0 blowout of Franklin & Marshall Feb. 4 in Lancaster, Pa., then easily handled Yale, 8-1, Saturday at Jadwin Gym.
After replacing slightly-injured sophomore Peter Yik in the No. 1 position a few weeks ago, junior Amir Give'on has performed well for the Tigers. Give'on, who was ranked sixth in Squash Magazine's preseason intercollegiate rankings, defeated Vineet Asthana of Franklin & Marshall, 15-12, 15-10, 15-6.
Yik, whose 3-0 victory against Harvard was only his fourth match of the season, defeated the Diplomats' Vinay Asthana, 15-4, 15-8, 15-10, to up his season record to 5-0. Yik is currently ranked fifth in the nation, and if his injury heals, he should make a strong postseason run.
The lone Princeton loss in the match against the Elis was at the No. 4 position, where senior Ted Roosevelt – who moved up to take Cantlin's position – dropped a 3-0 match to Yale's Kris Weiner.
The only match to go the distance was senior No. 6 Pierre Bastien's marathon defeat of the Elis' Devraj Roy, 13-15, 15-14, 13-15, 15-13, 15-7.
With a victory at the No. 3 position, Fishman improved his mark in dual matches to 8-1, identical to Princeton's record. Fishman and senior No. 5 Harrison Sebring, who also sports an 8-1 mark, are the only two Tigers to have played in every dual match of the season.
Among all of the impressive victories, perhaps the highlight of Princeton's week was the way in which the team responded to the Harvard loss, and in particular, Fishman's senior leadership. Though the Tigers have lost one captain – Cantlin – they look ready to make a strong postseason run behind the other. Editor's Note: Last Sunday's scheduled match with Trinity was postponed to Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. at Jadwin Gym.