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Squash Finishes with Two Wins

By Robert Aronstam

STAFF WRITER

The squash team finished its season last weekend by winning two of their three national tournament matches.

All three matches were against opponents the Engineers had faced during the regular season, and the results of the tournament matches duplicated the regular season results: wins over Connecticut College and Tufts University and a loss to Wesleyan College. MIT maintained its national ranking of 19 (third place in the “C” Division) upon conclusion of the tournament.

Three of MIT’s players went undefeated throughout the tournament. Simon Bradbury G, Naveen Goela ’03, and Rodney E. Huang ’03 each performed consistently well during the tournament. Such performances from these individuals were not unexpected, as these three were among the most reliable competitors for MIT throughout the 2001-2002 season. Double winners for MIT were the top seed, Kunal K. Surana ’03, team captain, Robert A. Finn ’02, and Steve S. Liu ’04.

Engineers top Connecticut, Tufts

After beating Connecticut and Tufts by scores of 7-2 and 8-1, respectively, during the regular season, MIT expected the tournament matches against those opponents to be similarly one-sided. This prediction was validated after the Friday and Sunday tournament matches.

In the Connecticut match, most of the matchups were the same as the regular seasons matchups. MIT showed that they had not forgotten how to beat their opponents and disposed of Connecticut by a score of 8-1. The additional win came at the sixth position in the lineup. Robert A. Aronstam ’02 avenged his regular season loss by winning a three-game match with scores of 9-7, 9-1, 9-2.

Much of the remainder of the lineup also won easily in three games. Bradbury (9-4, 9-1, 9-4), Goela (9-6, 9-0, 9-0), Rita E. Monson ’04 (9-1, 9-5, 9-2), Huang (9-6, 9-0, 9-0), and Wesley O. Jin ’05 (9-6, 9-2, 9-3) had little difficulty in besting their opponents. Liu survived a close first game to also win in three games (10-9, 9-5, 9-2). Surana rebounded after losing the first game to win in four (7-9, 9-3, 9-3, 9-3).

Finn emerged victorious in perhaps the most closely contested match. After going down 3-8 in the first game, Finn fought off match points and scored seven consecutive points to conclude the game. Finn outlasted his opponent with his relentless style of play. The final score of his match was 10-8, 9-6, 9-2.

Tufts fights for close match

Tufts proved to be a bit more competitive with MIT than they were during the regular season. In the tournament, MIT lost a few more matches and some of their margins of victory were narrow.

Finn’s gutsy five-game match was among the more exciting of the contest. After dropping the first two games, Finn refused to concede to his opponent. Finn did his best to make his opponent work hard for every point. This strategy eventually created winner opportunities for Finn and, also, elicited unforced errors from his opponent.

In the fourth game, Finn’s opponent began to break down mentally after he was not awarded a point on a controversial line call. Finn had hit a shot high off the back wall that his opponent believed nicked the top face of the wall, which is out of play. The MIT and Tufts referees disagreed on the call and several heated words were exchanged. Eventually, the point was replayed, much to the dismay of the Tufts contingency. However, Finn was unrattled and appeared more determined than ever. He finished off the game on the next point and went on to win the final game against his stunned opponent.

Finn’s rare come-from-behind win will certainly be one of the most memorable of his career, but he was quick to point out that each of his teammates also had moments of glory during the season. “At one point each of us had one or more than one amazing match,” Finn said.

Surana, Bradbury, and Monson will compete at the individual national tournament this weekend at Princeton University.