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Surging men's squash looks to take home national title

If momentum counts for anything in sports, men's squash may have a good chance to come away with a national title this weekend.

The Tigers, who host the 37-team Intercollegiate Squash Association team tournament today through Sunday at Jadwin and Dillon Gyms, will seek to translate the momentum they have gained over the last three weeks into a storybook ending to what once seemed like a lost season.

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Princeton (11-1 overall, 5-1 Ivy) comes off its biggest win of the season to date, a close 5-4 contest over previously unbeaten Trinity Tuesday that propelled the Tigers to a three-way tie in the regular season standings.

Ultimately, a tiebreaker based on the number of individual match wins each school had against the other two awarded the regular season crown to Trinity, placing Princeton third behind Harvard. However, the Tigers' late-season resurgence may play a big part in this weekend's action.

Beatrix

Seeded third in the Potter division, which includes the top eight teams in the tourney, the Tigers have a tough road between them and the championship trophy. While top-seeded Trinity and second-seeded Harvard have relatively easy first round matches, Princeton starts its title run against Amherst today, a team that it defeated by a deceptively lopsided 7-2 score last weekend.

Should the Tigers defeat the Lord Jeffs again, they would most likely face a rematch against the defending national champion Crimson tomorrow. Harvard dealt Princeton its only loss of the season, 6-3, in Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 1.

"The good news," said head coach Bob Callahan '77, "is that we are playing better than anyone else in the country."

Motivation

Since the Harvard loss, which simultaneously saw the loss of junior No. 4 Alan Cantlin for the season and seemed to signify that the Tigers would not be able to break through against the top teams in the country, the team has gone on a tear, capped by Tuesday's win.

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While Princeton cannot afford to overlook Amherst, the key to the Tigers' success will be how the team's nine players match up against the Crimson this time.

"The difference is confidence," senior No. 3 Ben Fishman said. "Knowing that these are our home courts makes a difference. We're all in a little better shape than we were when we played (Harvard) a couple weeks ago. We're a lot more match tough than we were a couple weeks ago."

"By now, each one (of us) knows what he has to do against his opponent," junior No. 1 Amir Give'on said. "It's a mental battle now."

Despite their late-season surge, the Tigers will still enter the weekend as underdogs.

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Although the tournament looks to be a three-team race between the top seeds, Callahan indicated that he thinks the pressure is more on Harvard and once-thought-to-be-unbeatable Trinity.

"Our goal is to get through (today) and give them everything we have," Callahan said. "It's going to take a really terrific effort on our part to have some people win who haven't beat their opponents."

Princeton goes into today's 1 p.m. match at Jadwin with a revamped lineup, and players who have been called on to step it up in the last month will yet again face increasing pressure as the weekend goes on.

The Tigers hope to ride their recent wave of momentum this weekend, and hope that a resurgence that has seen a team come together ends with the program's first ISA title in 16 years.

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